Mets great Mike Piazza elected to Hall of Fame
By Danny Abriano
In his fourth year on the ballot, Piazza finally got his due
Former Mets catcher Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, it was announced on the MLB Network.
Piazza received 83 percent of the vote, of which 75 percent was needed for election. He’ll be inducted with Ken Griffey, Jr., who received 99.3 percent of the vote, breaking Tom Seaver’s record of 98.8.
Piazza, 47, is viewed by most as the greatest-hitting catcher ever. He retired after the 2007 season, having hit .308/.377/.545 during a career spent with the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, and A’s.
Of Piazza’s 427 career home runs, 396 came as a catcher, an all-time record.
The Mets acquired Piazza from the Marlins in May of 1998 in exchange for Preston Wilson and a pair of minor leaguers. After the season, Piazza and the Mets agreed to a seven-year deal worth $91 million.
More from New York Mets News
- NY Mets: 3 offseason predictions from 3 different fans
- NY Mets Monday Morning GM: Haunting Dominic Smith trade conundrum
- NY Mets: Too early 2022 Opening Day pitching staff predictions
- NY Mets: 5 key thoughts on a trade for All-Star Jose Ramirez
- NY Mets: How patient should we be with the Steve Cohen regime?
During his time with the Mets, Piazza hit 220 home runs, was elected to the All-Star game six times, and was the major offensive force on the team that went to the NLCS in 1999 and the World Series in 2000. Piazza’s most memorable moment as a Met is arguably the home run he hit in the first game in New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Piazza’s support had been steadily climbing, having received 57.8 percent of the vote in 2013 (his first year on the ballot), 66.5 percent in 2014, and 69.9 percent in 2015.
Piazza has stated many times that he wants to have a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. In his autobiography, Long Shot, he said he’d rather go in with no logo on his cap than as a Dodger.
The Hall of Fame induction will take place on Sunday, July 24 in Cooperstown, New York.
Thoughts from Danny Abriano:
Mike Piazza shouldn’t have had to wait four years for induction, but baseless rumors kept him out until now. With the electorate having purged many older voters and with others coming around on Piazza, according to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker, Piazza is set to take his place among the immortals in Cooperstown.
This is something that Piazza deserves, and it’s also something a large swath of Mets fans have been waiting to happen since the day he retired. At last, the Mets will have a position player in the Hall wearing a Mets cap. And it will be one that was adored by the fan base during his career and who gets a raucous welcome every time he’s at Citi Field.
Piazza changed the Mets the second he was acquired in 1998, with his at-bats becoming must-see TV, and he turned the Mets into contenders for the first time where I was actually old enough to appreciate it. I was at his first game as a Met, against the Brewers at Shea, when he hit a laser for a double. Over the next eight seasons, Piazza would hit too many memorable home runs to recount, punishing the baseball to all three fields. I have to mention some of the home runs, though…
There’s the one he hit in the Astrodome late in 1998, the one he hit that tied Game 6 of the NLCS in 1999, the rope he hit on June 30, 2000 against the Braves, the one off the Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series later that year, all the ones he hit off Roger Clemens, and of course the one he hit on September 21st, 2001.
With Piazza now elected to the Hall, the focus can now shift to the Mets retiring his number — which is expected to happen this season — and the trip many fans will take to Cooperstown for his induction.
Thoughts from Ryan Punzalan:
Mike Piazza holds a special place in my heart. He was my favorite player growing up and he was many other’s favorite player of all-time. But, for me, Piazza will always be something more than just being an extravagant catcher in the MLB.
On September 11, 2001, my life changed forever. My uncle, an engineer contracted to work for a company stationed in the South Tower, perished. From that day forward, there was always a void in my heart knowing that I would never see him again.
A few years before, I had become a die-hard Mets fan. I attended games regularly with my family and knew I wouldn’t find a more enjoyable team. I played Little League Baseball and would regularly mirror batting stances and pitching windups of those from the Mets. So, when I did play, I would use the batting stance of the Mets’ most popular player, Mike Piazza.
When Major League Baseball announced that the Mets would play the first baseball game in New York City after September 11, I knew that I had to stop whatever I was doing so that I could watch this game. And it was Piazza’s home run that temporarily filled the void that was missing in my life.
The pure joy and excitement that I emitted on that evening was something that had been waiting to be released for days. It was because of Piazza that I felt that I could smile, laugh, and eventually move on from the tragic event.
Now, with his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame, that excitement returns. The man that took a downed city and put it on his back is finally getting the recognition that he deserves. I couldn’t be happier to see my hero be elected.
Thank you, Mike, and congratulations!
Thoughts from Michelle Ioannou:
It’s finally happening — Mike Piazza is getting the recognition he deserves. Piazza is in the Hall of Fame. Not only is he the greatest-hitting catcher ever, but his home run in the first New York baseball game post 9/11 will live in infamy, and still brings baseball fans to tears to this day. Of course, that home run isn’t the sole reason he was inducted into the hall of fame, but it’s definitely necessary to note. It set a tone of healing, rebuilding, and strength.
As a ’90s child that basically grew up in Shea Stadium, the late 90s – early 2000s team was the reason I fell in love with baseball. I was just 7 years old when Piazza came to the Mets, and his jersey became a staple in the Ioannou household. Legends never die, and that’s exactly what Piazza is – a legend.
Just this past season, the Ioannou family went to the Subway Series in September where Piazza threw out the first pitch. The crowd roared from the stands and rose to their feet. It was a magical sight that clearly showed the love, respect, and gratitude this fan base has for this amazing player. My brother Christopher puts it perfectly by saying, “It’s about time he got in, greatest catcher of all time, and the player who single-handedly turned the Mets around in the late 90s.”
If you read Mike Piazza’s autobiography, you know he addressed the Hall of Fame in it. If you haven’t read it yet, get ready because you’ll get chills reading his take on the Hall of Fame:
“If the Hall came to me and said, ‘We want you to go in as a Dodger,’ I’d say, ‘Well, then I’ll go in as nothing.’ I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with ‘LA’ stamped on my head for all of eternity.”
I leave you with that, fellow Mets fans. See you all in Cooperstown.
Thoughts from Sam Maxwell:
The thing I remember the most about Mike Piazza, and used to talk about all the time even when I was a Yankee fan, is his swing. I loved the way he would power through the zone and bring the bat all the way up past his left shoulder before heading to 1st to round the bases. I once saw live Glenallen Hill check swing into the black at Yankee Stadium, and he was definitely on steroids.
Piazza never struck me as a steroid user. His body was pretty consistent looking, compared to guys like Sammy Sosa, Ivan Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire,who had pretty visible body transformations over the course of their careers.
It’s a whole ‘nother article on the subjectiveness on the matter, and the persecution has been mainly driven by the media while the fans have done nothing but help make the last 30 years the most lucrative in baseball’s history (we reacted much more negatively to the player/owner battle that led to the cancellation of 1994’s final month and postseason.)
Next: Could Zack Wheeler be used in the bullpen in 2016?
Piazza got grouped in with Slugger A and Slugger B from that era unfairly, and should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer since he’s the greatest-hitting catcher of all time. Congratulations to Mike for getting the honor he rightly deserves. Now get 31 on that wall, Mets.