Mike Piazza

Michael Joseph Piazza (/piˈɑːtsə/; born September 4, 1968) is a former American professional baseball catcher who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), from 1992 to 2007. He played most notably for the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, while also having brief stints with the Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Oakland Athletics. A 12-time All-Star and 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner at catcher, Piazza produced strong offensive numbers at his position; in his career, he recorded 427 home runs—a record 396 of which were hit as catcher—along with a .308 batting average and 1,335 runs batted in (RBIs).

Piazza was drafted by the Dodgers in the 1988 MLB draft as a favor from Tommy Lasorda to Piazza's father. Initially a first baseman, Piazza converted to catcher in the minor leagues at Lasorda's suggestion to improve his chances of being promoted. He made his major league debut in 1992 and the following year was named the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year and was an All-Star for the first of 10 consecutive seasons. Piazza immediately impressed with his ability to hit for power and average. His best year as a Dodger came in 1997 when he batted .362, hit 40 home runs, and had 124 RBIs, leading to a runner-up finish in voting for the NL Most Valuable Player Award. In 1998, he was traded to the Marlins and then a week later to the Mets, with whom he spent most of the remainder of his career. He helped the Mets reach the 2000 World Series, the only World Series appearance of his career. After the 2005 season, Piazza left the Mets to play one season each for the Padres and Athletics before retiring after the 2007 season.

Piazza is regarded as one of the best offensive catchers in baseball history. He had at least one RBI in 15 consecutive games for the Mets in 2000, the second-longest RBI streak ever. In 2013, the Mets inducted Piazza into the New York Mets Hall of Fame. In 2016, Piazza was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Met, receiving 83% of the vote.[1]

Piazza is owner of the Italian soccer team A.C. Reggiana 1919, which played for two seasons (2017–2018) in Serie C under his leadership before its non-registration due to continued financial troubles.[2]

Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza spring of 2004
Piazza at 2004 spring training
Catcher
Born: September 4, 1968 (age 50)
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 1, 1992, for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 2007, for the Oakland Athletics
MLB statistics
Batting average.308
Home runs427
Runs batted in1,335
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction2016
Vote83.0% (fourth ballot)

Childhood

Piazza was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, grew up in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and attended Phoenixville Area High School. He is of Italian and Slovak ancestry, and is the second-oldest son of Vince and Veronica, with brothers Vince Jr., Danny, Tony, and Tommy. Mike grew up a Philadelphia Phillies fan, and admiring Hall of Fame Third baseman Mike Schmidt.[3][4]

Vince Piazza earned a fortune of more than $100 million in used cars and real estate, and attempted several times to purchase an MLB franchise.[5] When the Dodgers—managed by Vince Piazza's childhood friend Tommy Lasorda, the godfather of Mike Piazza's youngest brother, Tommy[6]—visited Philadelphia, Piazza visited the Dodger clubhouse and served as a bat boy in the dugout.[7]

Vince Piazza's own hopes of playing baseball had ended at the age of 16 when he left school to support his family. He saw that Mike Piazza had potential in the sport, and began encouraging his son to build his arm strength at the age of five.[5] When he was 12, Piazza received personal instruction in his backyard batting cage from Ted Williams.[8] The Hall of Famer praised his talent, advised him not to let anyone change his swing, and autographed Piazza's copy of Williams' The Science of Hitting.[7] Vince Piazza threw hundreds of pitches nightly to his son,[5] who shared his father's focus on baseball, clearing snow if necessary to practice his hitting and, after reaching the major leagues, practicing on Christmas Eve.[7]

He graduated from Phoenixville Area High School in 1986, after which he went to South Florida and joined the Miami Hurricanes his freshman year; receiving no playing time that season, Piazza transferred to Miami-Dade North.[9]

Major league career

Los Angeles Dodgers

After his father asked Lasorda to select Piazza as a favor,[10] the Miami-Dade Community College student was drafted by the Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB amateur draft as the 1,390th player picked overall.[11][7] Lasorda asked Piazza to give up his first base position and learn how to catch to improve his chances of reaching the major leagues, and helped him attend a special training camp for catchers in the Dominican Republic.[7] Piazza became an excellent hitter, especially for a catcher.[10] His MLB debut came with the Dodgers on September 1, 1992, against the Chicago Cubs. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance and then doubled to deep center field in his first official at-bat, against Mike Harkey of the Cubs.[12] He hit his first home run on September 12, 1992, against Steve Reed of the San Francisco Giants.[13] He only appeared in 21 games that season, hitting .232.

He won the NL MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1993 after appearing in 149 games, hitting .318, slugging 35 home runs, and driving in 112 RBIs. He was also selected to the 1993 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, his first of 10 consecutive (and 12 total) All-Star appearances. Until Joc Pederson passed him in 2015, Piazza's 18 home runs before the All Star break was a Dodgers' rookie record.[14]

In 1996, Piazza hit .336 with 36 home runs and 105 RBIs, finishing second in MVP voting, behind Ken Caminiti.

Piazza's best season with the Dodgers was 1997, when he hit .362, with 40 home runs, 124 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .431, and a slugging percentage of .638. He finished second in voting MVP for the second consecutive season, behind Larry Walker.

Florida Marlins

He played seven seasons for the Dodgers until he was traded to the Florida Marlins on May 15, 1998. Piazza and Todd Zeile went to the Marlins in return for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Manuel Barrios, and Jim Eisenreich.[15] He only appeared in five games with the Marlins, where he hit .278.

New York Mets

Mike Piazza (1999)
Piazza with the Mets in May 1999

One week later, on May 22, Piazza was traded from the Marlins to the New York Mets for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall, and Geoff Goetz. Despite stellar numbers from Piazza, the Mets missed the 1998 postseason by one game. Piazza helped the Mets to two consecutive playoff appearances in 1999 and 2000. The latter of the two resulted in a NL pennant and a World Series appearance in the 2000 Subway Series. Of note, all five games were decided by two runs or fewer, something that had not occurred in a World Series in almost 70 years. He became known as the Monster after coach John Stearns was caught on tape during the 2000 National League Championship Series after a Piazza hit saying "The Monster is out of the Cage".[15][16]

Piazza was involved in a bizarre incident during the 2000 World Series. Earlier in the season during interleague play, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens hit Piazza in the head with a fastball. Piazza suffered a concussion and was forced to miss the 2000 MLB All-Star Game. Clemens was widely criticized by Mets fans for the incident, but Clemens maintained that the pitch was not intentional. Clemens and Piazza would go on to face each other again in the first inning of World Series Game 2. During the at-bat, Clemens threw a pitch that broke Piazza's bat as he fouled it off, sending the barrel and a sharp edge of the broken bat directly at Clemens on the mound just as he finished his delivery. Clemens caught the barrel, initially thinking it was the ball coming back at him, but upon realizing it wasn't the baseball, he threw it across the first base line towards the Yankees' dugout and just past Piazza who was running down to first. Piazza gave a long stare at Clemens and slowly started walking towards Clemens to confront him, and Clemens asked the umpire for a new ball as if nothing had happened. During replays, Clemens can be seen shouting "I thought it was the ball!" and asking the umpire for a new ball multiple times as the two benches cleared and met at the mound. Words were exchanged between the two players, but no punches were thrown from either team and nobody was ejected. Piazza later caught for Clemens when both were on the NL team in the 2004 All-Star Game. Clemens gave up six runs in the first inning.[17]

Piazza's game-winning 8th-inning home run in the first professional baseball game played in New York following the 9/11 attacks has been called iconic, therapeutic, and symbolic.[16] The jersey he wore in that September 21, 2001 game was purchased in April 2016 for $365,000, the highest price ever paid for a modern-day jersey, and is displayed on a rotating basis among the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Citi Field, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.[18][19]

To ease the stress on his deteriorating knees, Piazza began to split his time between catching and playing first base during the 2004 season, an experiment which was abandoned before the end of the season because of Piazza's defensive deficiencies. Although recognized as a great hitter, Piazza has had some notable defensive accomplishments. Among them, Piazza caught two no-hitters thrown by Ramón Martínez and Hideo Nomo while playing with the Dodgers. Nomo's was particularly impressive because it happened at Coors Field, notorious at the time for being a hitter-friendly ballpark. Additionally, Piazza's .997 fielding percentage was tops among NL catchers in 2000.[20]

On May 5, 2004, Piazza surpassed Carlton Fisk for most home runs by a catcher with his 352nd.

On October 2, 2005, Piazza played his final game in a Mets uniform. Because it was well-reported that Piazza would soon depart to free agency, Mets manager Willie Randolph elected to replace Piazza in the top of the eighth inning. With the Shea Stadium crowd giving him a standing ovation, Piazza humbly bowed to the stands and blew kisses to the adoring fans.

San Diego Padres

Piazza on 1st (future hall of famer)
Piazza wearing number 33 with San Diego in 2006

Following the 2005 season, Piazza signed a one-year contract with the San Diego Padres on January 29, 2006. Prior to the start of the 2006 season, Piazza represented Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Serving as the Padres' starting catcher and clean-up hitter, Piazza experienced somewhat of a rejuvenation in 2006, batting .283 with 22 homers and helping the Padres to a division title. On July 21, 2006, Mike Piazza collected his 2,000th career hit in the major leagues.

On August 8, 2006, Piazza played his first game at Shea Stadium since leaving the Mets. Throughout the three-game series, Piazza drew frequent standing ovations from New York fans. It was on par with that of Tom Seaver on his return to pitch at Shea Stadium in 1977 and 1978. Even more telling was during that series, on August 9, he drew a rare curtain call in the opposing park following a home run off Mets pitcher (and former Dodgers and Mets teammate) Pedro Martínez in the 4th inning. Not done for the day, Piazza went deep off Martinez again in the 6th. And with the Mets ahead 4–2 in the 8th, and two runners aboard, Piazza hit one to the wall in center, nearly bashing his third homer of the day and putting the Padres ahead.

Oakland Athletics

Piazza signed as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics on December 8, 2006.

On July 25, 2007, in the top of the ninth inning in a game between the Angels and Athletics at Angel Stadium, a fan threw a water bottle that hit Piazza, who had homered earlier in the game. Piazza then pointed his bat in the stands at the fan he believed threw the water bottle to get the attention of security. The fan, who was identified as Roland Flores from La Puente, California, was arrested by the ballpark security. Piazza pressed charges against Flores.[21] Flores was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation on March 27, 2008. On September 26 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Piazza hit his 427th and what would be his final major league home run of his career off of rookie pitcher Jon Lester.

After not being signed to any MLB team for the 2008 season, Piazza announced his retirement on May 20, 2008, saying, "After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it is time to start a new chapter in my life. It has been an amazing journey."[22]

Retirement

Piazza made a return to Shea Stadium during the "Shea Goodbye" closing ceremony on September 28, 2008, where he received the final pitch in the history of the stadium from Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Piazza and Seaver were also afforded the immense honor of officially "closing" Shea when they walked off together into the center field exit and closed the door on the park after waving goodbye to the capacity crowd. On April 13, 2009, Piazza received the first pitch in Citi Field history from Seaver before the Mets opening game against the Padres.

Associazione Calcio Reggiana 1919

In 2016, Piazza purchased a majority ownership stake of the third-division Italian soccer club A.C. Reggiana in Reggio Emilia, with an estimated investment of $3 million. His interest grew from his friendship with former Italian soccer player Mauricio Franzone.[23]

However, after two seasons of ownership and a controversial playoff loss to Robur Siena (with a penalty called in the 96th minute) Piazza put the team up for sale. Finding no buyers, and faced with mounting costs, including rent, the club ceased operations in July 2018. In December the team declared bankruptcy for the third time in the last twenty years.[24]

Legacy

MikePiazzaMets
Mike Piazza's number 31 was retired by the New York Mets in 2016.

Mets teammate Tom Glavine called Piazza a "first-ballot Hall of Famer, certainly the best hitting catcher of our era and arguably the best hitting catcher of all time".[10] On May 8, 2010, while receiving an award, Piazza said to reporters that if he got into the Hall of Fame, he would like to be inducted as a Met, for whom he played seven-plus seasons.[25]

Mike Piazza HOF Press Conference
Piazza at the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame press conference

Piazza managed the USA team in the 2011 futures game wearing a Mets cap to the event.[26]

On January 9, 2013, Piazza failed to be elected to Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving only 57.8% of the votes and falling short of the 75% qualifying votes. He stated that he would address the performance-enhancing drugs and steroid rumors in his book Long Shot.[27] In his second appearance on the ballot, Piazza's percentage numbers did rise (62.2%), but not to the 75% needed to be inducted. Piazza again failed to make the Hall of Fame in 2015, receiving 69.9% of the votes needed (28 votes shy of the mark).[28] On January 6, 2016, Piazza was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving 83% of the vote.[1]

Piazza was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame on September 29, 2013.[29]

Piazza's autobiography, entitled Long Shot, was released in February 2013.[30]

Piazza is known as among the best-hitting catchers of all time, hitting 427 career home runs and having an OPS of .922. Only nine other players have ever had over 400 home runs with over a .300 lifetime average while never striking out more than 100 times in a season (Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, and Chipper Jones).

In addition to his hitting, Piazza's defense has undergone a more positive reassessment in light of new defensive metrics. His pitch framing, in particular, ranks seventh-best among all catchers going back to the first data in 1988.[31] Another report published in 2008 put him third among all catchers since 1948 in improving the performances of his pitchers.[32]

The New York Mets retired his uniform number, 31, in a ceremony on July 30, 2016[33] prior to the Mets' game against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.

Acting

Piazza has appeared in the movie Two Weeks Notice and has acted in various TV shows and commercials.[34]

On May 3, 2013, Piazza debuted with the Miami City Ballet, saying a few lines in the role of a hit man in the troupe's production of Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Piazza wants to increase the reputation of ballet among sports fans as a result of his daughters' attendance at a ballet school.[34][35]

Personal life

On January 29, 2005, Piazza married Playboy Playmate Alicia Rickter at St. Jude's Catholic Church in Miami, Florida, before 120 guests, including Brande Roderick, Lisa Dergan, Anjelica Bridges, Al Leiter, John Franco, Iván Rodríguez, Eddie Trunk, and his best friend Eric Karros.

On February 3, 2007, Piazza's wife gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Nicoletta. On August 3, 2009, their second child, daughter Paulina, was born.[36] The couple's third child and first son, Marco, was born in July 2013.[37]

Piazza is known to be a fan of heavy metal music and is featured on the CD Stronger Than Death by Black Label Society. He is also godfather to Zakk Wylde's son, Hendrix. He often cohosts Eddie Trunk's Friday Night Rocks show on WAXQ ("Q-104.3 FM") in New York City and was featured as the primary guest on an episode of That Metal Show. He is also an accomplished drummer and has performed on stage with various bands.

Piazza is a devout Roman Catholic. His faith was instilled in him by his Catholic father[38] and was featured in Champions of Faith, a DVD documentary exploring the intersection of Catholic religious faith and sports. He also appeared in the follow-up video Champions of Faith: Bases of Life.

Piazza is also avidly involved in the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago.

While playing with the Mets, Piazza was a resident of Cresskill, New Jersey.[39]

He was represented his entire career by sports agent Dan Lozano. In his retirement, his marketing is being handled by Octagon (Sports Agency).[40] Piazza has lived in Miami since 2002.[34]

Career highlights and milestones

  • In 1993, Piazza hit 35 home runs, the most by any rookie catcher, eclipsing Matt Nokes' 32 home runs for Detroit in 1987. Additionally, Piazza's 35 home runs were the most home runs by any Dodger rookie, until Cody Bellinger's 2017 campaign.
  • He won the 1994 ESPY Award for Breakthrough Athlete.
  • He was named the All-Star Game's MVP, in 1996, after he went 2–3 with a double, home run, and two RBIs at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, near his home town of Phoenixville.
  • His 40 homers in 1997 and 1999 are the third-most by a catcher. Todd Hundley is second, with 41 homers in 1996, Javy López is first, with 42 in 2003, and Johnny Bench had 45 in 1970, although only 38 home runs were hit while catching.
  • His .362 average in 1997 was the highest ever by an NL catcher, breaking the 60-year-old record of .354 set by Gabby Hartnett in 1937 and tying the MLB record set by Bill Dickey, who also batted .362 for the New York Yankees in 1936.[41] This record was broken by Joe Mauer, who hit .365 in 2009.
  • He won the Ted Williams Award, presented by CNN/SI and Total Baseball in 1997.
  • His 201 hits in 1997 were the most in major league history by a player used as a catcher in 130 or more games.
  • On September 21, 1997, Mike Piazza became just the third player and the only Dodger ever to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium with a blast over the left-field pavilion.
  • He hit the longest home run in Astrodome history, an estimated 480-foot, two-run blast off José Lima in the first inning of a game on September 14, 1998.
  • He led the majors with four grand slams in 1998. His fourth slam and first as a Met came against the Diamondbacks' Andy Benes in the second inning of the August 22 game at Shea Stadium.
  • Hit his 200th home run on September 16, 1998, at Houston. The home run, a three-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning against Billy Wagner, gave the Mets a 3–2 lead in a game they would win, 4–3, in 11 innings.
  • He tied a Mets club record on July 18, 2000, when he hit his third grand slam of the season. The only other Mets with three grand slams in a year are John Milner in 1976, Robin Ventura in 1999, and Carlos Beltrán in 2006.
  • His 72 RBIs prior to the All-Star Break in 2000 were, at the time, the most in club history. Dave Kingman had 69 in 1976.
  • Piazza, Derek Jeter, and Bernie Williams are the only players in major league history to hit a World Series home run in both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.
  • He won a record 10 consecutive Louisville Silver Slugger Awards. The award is given annually to the best offensive player at each position in each league.
  • He joined Cincinnati's Johnny Bench (1968), New York Yankees' Thurman Munson (1970), Atlanta's Earl Williams (1971), Boston's Carlton Fisk (1972), San Diego's Benito Santiago (1987), and Cleveland's Sandy Alomar, Jr. (1990) as the only catchers to be named Rookie of the Year. Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto would also be bestowed with this honor following his stellar 2008 season, along with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey after the 2010 season.
  • He finished second in the NL Most Valuable Player voting behind San Diego's Ken Caminiti after batting .336 with 36 home runs, 105 RBIs, 87 runs, and 16 doubles in 148 games in 1996. (Caminiti later admitted to taking steroids during his MVP Award-winning season.)
  • He led the All-Star voting in 1996, 1997, and 2000.
  • He hit more than 30 home runs in eight consecutive seasons (1995–2002). He has nine career 30-homer seasons.
  • He hit .300 in nine consecutive seasons, dating from 1993 to 2001.
  • Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench were on hand at Shea Stadium to honor Piazza on "Mike Piazza Night" on June 18, 2004. Piazza was celebrated for breaking the record for career home runs by a catcher.
  • He hit his 400th career home run on April 26, 2006, off the Arizona Diamondbacks' José Valverde.
  • He hit a double off of the San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain for his 2,000th career hit on July 21, 2006.
  • Hit three home runs against the Colorado Rockies on June 29, 1996.[42]
  • Mike currently serves as the hitting coach for the Italian baseball club in the World Baseball Classic and in the 2009 World Cup.[43]
  • On September 21, 2001, 10 days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, Mike Piazza hit a home run in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks, giving the Mets a 3–2 lead over the Braves.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Griffey sets Hall vote mark; Piazza gets call". MLB.com. January 6, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  2. ^ Nisse, Jake (July 17, 2018). "Mike Piazzas soccer team goes bust". New York Post. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Bloom, Barry M. (July 24, 2016). "Piazza's proud pop watches son's call to Hall". Major League Baseball. Retrieved March 18, 2019. Mike was the second of five sons ....
  4. ^ Osowiecki, Stan. "Mike Piazza". Society For American Baseball Research. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Berlind, William (October 17, 1999). "Mike Piazza's 'Loudmouth' Dad Nervously Watches Mets Advance". New York Observer. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  6. ^ Long Shot by Mike Piazza with Lonnie Wheeler, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 40
  7. ^ a b c d e Coffey, Wayne (June 7, 1998). "HOMETOWN HERO METS'S PIZZA HAS BECOME FAVORITE SON OF PHOENIXVILLE, PA". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  8. ^ "The Ballplayers – Mike Piazza". BaseballLibrary.com. Archived from the original on August 9, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
  9. ^ Richards, George (July 5, 2017). "Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige and A-Rod part of Miami's long and storied baseball history". Miami Herald. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Schwarz, Alan (May 21, 2008). "Piazza Calls It Quits After 16 Years and 427 Homers". New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  11. ^ 62nd Round of the 1988 MLB June Amateur Draft
  12. ^ Dodgers vs. Cubs September 1, 1992 Boxscore
  13. ^ Dodgers vs. Giants September 12, 1992, box score
  14. ^ Stephen, Eric (June 22, 2015). "Dodgers lose home run derby to Cubs on dark night at Wrigley". SB Nation. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Mike Piazza from the Chronology". BaseballLibrary.com. Archived from the original on August 9, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
  16. ^ a b Noble, Marty (September 27, 2008). "Piazza's post-9/11 shot became iconic Slugger's dramatic game-winning homer added to legacy". MLB.com. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  17. ^ "2004 All-Star Game Box Score". Retrieved October 5, 2008.
  18. ^ Kernan, Kevin (April 14, 2016). "Mets fans spend big to rescue Piazza 9/11 jersey as museum piece". New York Post. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  19. ^ Kernan, Kevin (April 5, 2016). "Frustrated Mike Piazza speaks out on Mets' 9/11 jersey shocker". New York Post. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  20. ^ Mike Piazza Fielding Stats
  21. ^ ESPN – Piazza to press charges against fan who threw bottle – MLB
  22. ^ "Piazza, one of greatest hitting catchers in MLB history, retires". Associated Press. May 20, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
  23. ^ Keh, Andrew (February 20, 2017). "Mike Piazza Learns How to Be an Owner. Of a Soccer Team. In Italy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  24. ^ Powell, Robert Andrew (December 18, 2018). "The Passion of Mike Piazza: How the midlife crisis of a baseball Hall of Famer led to the demise of a 100-year old Italian soccer club". The Athletic. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  25. ^ Brescia, Joe (May 7, 2010). "If the Hall Calls, Piazza Wants to Enter as a Met". New York Times.
  26. ^ The Rocket That Fell to Earth: Roger Clemens and the Rage for Baseball Immortality by Jeff Pearlman. HarperCollins. New York: 2009 pg 240
  27. ^ "Legendary Met Mike Piazza To Address Steroid, PED Rumors In New Book". CBS News New York. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  28. ^ Webner, Richard. "Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio elected to Hall of Fame". jacksonville.com. The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  29. ^ "Mike Piazza to be inducted into Mets Hall of Fame on Fan Appreciation Day". MLB.com. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  30. ^ "Long Shot". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  31. ^ "Known for big bat, Piazza was underrated defensively". MLB.com. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  32. ^ "Schrodinger's Bat". Baseball Prospectus. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  33. ^ Simon, Andrew (January 25, 2016). "Mets to retire Mike Piazza's No. 31". m.mets.mlb.com. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  34. ^ a b c Mike Piazza makes his ballet debut in Miami, a hit man again Newsday May, 4, 2013
  35. ^ Mike Piazza Makes His Debut With Miami City Ballet May 4, 2013
  36. ^ "Alicia Rickter-Piazza – Mike Piazza's Wife (Bio, Wiki, Video)". Fabwags.com. Wag Group. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  37. ^ Mike Piazza – verified account (July 13, 2013). "Mike Piazza on Twitter: 'Marco Vincenzo Piazza, he is already hitting well to right field!'". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  38. ^ Thomasos, Christine (July 26, 2016). "Mike Piazza Celebrates His Mom and Gift of Catholic Faith During Hall of Fame Induction". The Christian Post. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  39. ^ Heyman, Jon. "NY SPRING TRAINING / East Is Eden / Piazza's found contentment after leaving the West Coast", Newsday, March 21, 1999. Accessed February 21, 2011. "Piazza looked long and hard in Brooklyn but eventually settled on a house in secluded Cresskill, in Bergen County, N.J., away from the action but closer to his mom and pop in Valley Forge, Pa."
  40. ^ Jon Heyman – verified account (April 22, 2016). "Jon Heyman on Twitter: 'Octagon is handling Mike Piazza's marketing now. #HOF'". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  41. ^ Vass, George (April 1996). Here's How Division Races Shape Up for the '96 Season. Baseball Digest. Books.Google.com. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  42. ^ "June, 1996". Archived from the original on June 29, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
  43. ^ "IBAF Baseball World Cup 2009 – rosters". Archived from the original on September 15, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009.

External links

1993 Los Angeles Dodgers season

The 1993 Dodgers improved on the dismal 1992 season finishing fourth in the Western Division of the National League. This was in part thanks to this year's Rookie of the Year winner, catcher Mike Piazza. Piazza set rookie records with 35 home runs and 112 RBI. He also hit two home runs on the last day of the season as the Dodgers knocked their longtime rival the Giants out of playoff contention with a 12-1 victory at Dodger Stadium.

1994 Los Angeles Dodgers season

The 1994 Los Angeles Dodgers season was the 36th season of the franchise. The Dodgers were leading the National League's Western Division in the 1994 season when a players strike halted the season.

1995 Los Angeles Dodgers season

The 1995 Los Angeles Dodgers season was notable for the American baseball debut of Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo. In his first season with the Dodgers after an accomplished career in the Japanese leagues, Nomo went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA and a league leading 236 strikeouts. He was the starting pitcher in the All-Star game and won the Rookie of the Year award.

The Dodgers won the National League's Western Division title, but lost to the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS.

1995 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1995 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 66th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 11, 1995, at The Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Texas Rangers of the American League. It was the first All-Star Game held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but not the first hosted by the franchise (as the Washington Senators, the team hosted the game in 1962 and 1969).

In this All-Star Game, American League pitchers held National League batters to just three base hits, but all three were home runs. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 3-2. This is also the most recent All-Star Game to be televised by the ABC television network.

Because of the MLBPA Strike, and the lack of official champions, the leagues chose to designate the managers of the unofficial league champions (teams with the best record at the time of abandonment of the season) as managers for this All-Star Game.

There were two color guards participating in the pregame ceremonies. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Color Guard from Ottawa, Ontario, carried the Canadian flag, while the 1995-96 Del Rio (TX) High School ROTC Color Guard carried the American flag. Country singer Michelle Wright later sang "O Canada", while fellow country singer (and native Texan) Lyle Lovett sang "The Star-Spangled Banner". Nolan Ryan threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

National League President Len Coleman presented Jeff Conine with the All-Star Game MVP Award in lieu of the Commissioner of Baseball, marking the second year in a row that Coleman presided over the MVP Award presentation.

1996 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1996 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 67th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 9, 1996, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League. This marked the fifteenth and final all star game appearance of Ozzie Smith, who retired after the 1996 season. Smith entered the game in the top of the sixth inning. His first at-bat was greeted by chants of "Oz-zie, Oz-zie" from the Philadelphia crowd. Iron Man Cal Ripken, Jr., who was in the midst of his record-breaking run of consecutive games played, broke his nose during the pre-game AL team picture. However, he was ready to go at game time and started at SS.

During the pregame ceremonies, Kelsey Grammer of Frasier sang the American National Anthem and Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan sang the Canadian National Anthem. U.S. Congressman Jim Bunning (who was elected to the baseball hall-of-fame in 1996) joined other Phillies' hall of fame alumni Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts in tossing the ceremonial first pitches.

Joe Carter, the Toronto Blue Jays representative to the All-Star Game, received boos from the crowd for his home run that ended the 1993 World Series.The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 6–0. The National League would not win another All-Star Game until 2010.

Then-Chairman of the Executive Committee Bud Selig presented the All-Star Game MVP Award to Mike Piazza. Bobby Brown had presented the MVP Award in 1993, while National League President Len Coleman had presented the award in 1994 and 1995. After presenting the MVP Award at the 1998 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Selig was officially named Commissioner of Baseball.

This is the only All-Star Game in which not a single pitcher walked a batter; appropriately, Braves closer Mark Wohlers was the final pitcher of the game.

Veterans Stadium also held the "distinction" of being the most recent host stadium to be closed down, a distinction it lost after Yankee Stadium closed at the conclusion of the 2008 season. This is also, as of the end of the 2017 MLB season, the last MLB All-Star Game to be played on artificial turf (there are now only two MLB stadiums with artificial turf, but both are of the next-generation variety).

1997 Los Angeles Dodgers season

The 1997 Los Angeles Dodgers season, under manager Bill Russell, was a season in American baseball. It was competitive all season long before finally fading down the stretch; the Dodgers finished in second place behind their longtime rivals, San Francisco Giants, in the Western Division of the National League. The edition of the Dodgers had, for the second time in team history (and for the first time since 1977), four players crack the 30 home run barrier: Mike Piazza led the team with 40, Eric Karros and Todd Zeile hit 31 each, and Raul Mondesi hit 30.

1998 Florida Marlins season

The Florida Marlins' 1998 season was the 6th season for the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise in the National League. It would begin with the team attempting to defend their World Series Champion title, having won the title in 1997. Their manager was Jim Leyland. They played home games at Pro Player Stadium, and finished with a record of 54–108, last in the NL East. The team is notable for having arguably the biggest fire sale in sports history, auctioning off nearly all of their most notable players. The 1998 Marlins were the first defending World Series champions to finish last in their division. After winning on opening day against the Chicago Cubs, the Marlins would lose 11 straight, the most consecutive losses by a reigning champion. The Marlins would finish 0-9 against 3 teams: Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Milwaukee. The 1998 Marlins are the last team in baseball history to finish winless against 3 separate opponents.

1998 Los Angeles Dodgers season

The 1998 season saw the sale of the franchise from Peter O'Malley to the Fox Entertainment Group take effect. The new corporate executives would quickly anger Dodger fans when they bypassed General Manager Fred Claire and made one of the biggest trades in franchise history. They traded All-Star catcher Mike Piazza and starting third baseman Todd Zeile to the Florida Marlins for a package that included Gary Sheffield.

The team on the field performed poorly under all the stress and soon Fox fired Claire and manager Bill Russell, replacing them with former Manager Tommy Lasorda, who was appointed interim GM and Minor League manager Glenn Hoffman who took over for Russell. The team limped along to finish in third place in the National League West and more changes were in the offing for the following season.

1999 New York Mets season

The New York Mets' 1999 season was the 38th regular season for the Mets. They went 97-66 and finished 2nd in the NL East but won the NL Wild Card by beating the Cincinnati Reds in a one game playoff. The Mets advanced to the National League Championship Series, where they were defeated by the Atlanta Braves in 6 games.

The Mets were managed by Bobby Valentine, who entered his fourth year as skipper. They played home games at Shea Stadium.

2000 National League Championship Series

The 2000 National League Championship Series (NLCS), to determine the champion of Major League Baseball's National League, was played between the Central Division champion St. Louis Cardinals and the wild card New York Mets. The Mets and Cards used as a rally cry the 2000 hit song "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baha Men.

This series pitted a pair of teams that were former division rivals. In the mid-1980s, the Mets and Cardinals fought it out for supremacy in the National League East over four seasons, with each team alternating division championships between 1985 and 1988 (the Cardinals in their pennant seasons of 1985 and 1987, the Mets in their championship season of 1986 and 1988; however, the Cardinals weren't serious contenders in both of those years).The Cardinals, led by manager Tony La Russa, had played through the 2000 season in relatively businesslike fashion. They had won the National League Central division, and swept the Mets' fiercest rival, Atlanta Braves, in three games in the NL Division Series, making the Mets' run to the World Series much easier. However, they were struck with several injuries to key players as the playoffs began, including slugger Mark McGwire, catcher Mike Matheny, and the sudden, unexplained wildness of rookie pitcher Rick Ankiel.

The Mets, on the other hand, engaged in battle with the Braves for much of the season, eventually falling one game short of a division title. They matched up with the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series. After dropping the first game, they would rebound to win the following three games in heart-stopping fashion, including a thirteenth inning walk off home run from Benny Agbayani to win Game 3 and an improbable one-hit shutout by Bobby Jones to win the clinching Game 4. As noted above, the Mets thanked the Cardinals for making their run to the World Series much easier.It was the first NLCS since 1990 not to feature the Braves.

The Mets would go on to lose to the New York Yankees in the World Series in five games.

2000 World Series

The 2000 World Series was the championship series of Major League Baseball's (MLB) 2000 season. The 96th edition of the World Series, it was a best-of-seven playoff between crosstown opponents, the two-time defending World Series champions and American League (AL) champion New York Yankees and the National League (NL) champion New York Mets. The Yankees defeated the Mets, four games to one, to win their third consecutive championship and 26th overall. The series was often referred to as the "Subway Series", referring to the longstanding matchup between New York baseball teams; it was the first World Series contested between two New York teams since the 1956 World Series. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was named the World Series Most Valuable Player.

The Yankees advanced to the World Series by defeating the Oakland Athletics, three games to two, in the AL Division Series, and then the Seattle Mariners, four games to two, in the AL Championship Series; it was the third consecutive season the Yankees had reached the World Series, the fourth time in the past five years, and the 37th overall, making it the most of any team in MLB. The Mets advanced to the World Series by defeating the San Francisco Giants, three games to one, in the NL Division Series, and then the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to one, in the NL Championship Series; it was the team's fourth World Series appearance, making it the most of any expansion franchise in MLB and the Mets' first appearance since winning the 1986 World Series.

The Yankees were the first team in baseball to win three consecutive championships since the 1972–1974 Oakland Athletics, and the first professional sports team to accomplish the feat since the 1996–1998 Chicago Bulls.

2016 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2016 proceeded according to rules most recently amended in 2015. As in the past, the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from a ballot of recently retired players, with results announced on January 6, 2016.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to the Hall of Fame. The Pre-Integration Committee, the last of three new voting committees established during an earlier rules change in 2010 to replace the more broadly defined Veterans Committee, convened in December 2015 to select from a ballot of players and non-playing personnel who made their greatest contributions to the sport prior to 1947 – called the "Pre-Integration Era" by the Hall of Fame – but failed to select any inductees.The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies was held on July 24, 2016 at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, with commissioner Rob Manfred presiding. On the day before the actual induction ceremony, the annual Hall of Fame Awards Presentation took place. At that event, two awards for media excellence were presented – the Hall's Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters and the BBWAA's J. G. Taylor Spink Award for writers. The other major Hall of Fame award, the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, will not be presented again until at least 2017.

Alicia Rickter

Alicia Rickter (born September 21, 1972) is an American model and actress. She appeared as “Laura” in the comedy Buying the Cow and on the TV series Baywatch and The Young and the Restless. She posed nude for Playboy magazine as Miss October 1995. Although she was referred to as the 500th Playboy Playmate, it was not realized at the time that two of the earliest Playmates (Marilyn Waltz and Margaret Scott) were the same person, making Rickter No. 499. She has also appeared in three Playboy videos.

Rickter is the daughter of Diana Seminara and is married to baseball player Mike Piazza. They married on January 29, 2005 in Miami and have two daughters.

Rickter is currently the vice-President of A.C. Reggiana 1919, an Italian soccer club owned by her husband with the 85% of stakes.

Carlton Fisk

Carlton Ernest Fisk (born December 26, 1947), nicknamed "Pudge" and "The Commander", is a retired Major League Baseball (MLB) catcher and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. During a 24-year baseball career, he played for both the Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971–1980) and Chicago White Sox (1981–1993). He was the first player to be unanimously voted American League Rookie of the Year (1972). Fisk is best known for "waving fair" his game-winning home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

At the time of his retirement, Fisk held the record for most home runs all-time by a catcher with 351 (since surpassed by Mike Piazza). He has held several age- or longevity-related records, including the record for most games played at the position of catcher with 2,226 (later surpassed by Iván Rodríguez). Fisk still holds the American League record for most years served behind the plate (24). Fisk was voted to the All-Star team 11 times and won three Silver Slugger Awards which is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position.

Fisk was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.

List of Los Angeles Dodgers seasons

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the second most successful franchise in the National League and the third-most successful and second-most wealthy in Major League Baseball after the New York Yankees. The franchise was formerly based in Brooklyn and known originally as the "Grays" or "Trolley Dodgers" after the trams which supporters had to avoid to enter games. Later it became known successively as the "Bridegrooms", "Superbas", "Dodgers" and "Robins"; the present "Dodgers" was firmly established in 1932.

The franchise has won the World Series six times and lost a further 13, and like the Yankees and Cardinals have never lost 100 games in a season since World War I, with their worst record since then being in 1992 with 63 wins and their best records ever being in 1953 with 105 wins and both 1942 and 2017 with 104. Their most successful period, between 1947 and 1966 with ten World Series appearances and only two seasons with 71 or more losses (one of them the year they moved to Los Angeles after a dispute over stadium funding), was famous for the Dodgers becoming the first Major League Baseball team to incorporate African American players, led by Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.

List of New York Mets team records

This is a list of team records for the New York Mets baseball team.

List of Silver Slugger Award winners at catcher

The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (MLB). These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage (OBP), in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver.Among catchers, Mike Piazza has won the most Silver Slugger Awards, with ten consecutive wins in the National League between 1993 and 2002; this is the most Silver Sluggers won consecutively by any player in Major League Baseball. In the American League, Iván Rodríguez has won the most Silver Sluggers, with six consecutive wins from 1994 to 1999, and a seventh when he tied with Víctor Martínez in 2004. Lance Parrish won the American League award six times (1980, 1982–1984, 1986, and 1990), and Joe Mauer and Jorge Posada have won it five times; Mauer won in 2006, 2008–2010 and 2013, while Posada won in 2000–2003 and 2007. Hall of Famer Gary Carter (1981–1983, 1984–1986) and Brian McCann (2006, 2008-2011) are five-time winners in the National League. Other multiple awardees include Buster Posey (four wins; 2012, 2014–2015, 2017), Benito Santiago (four wins; 1987–1988, 1990–1991), Mickey Tettleton (three wins; 1989, 1991–1992) and Carlton Fisk (three wins; 1981, 1985, 1988). J. T. Realmuto and Salvador Pérez are the most recent National and American League winners, respectively.

Piazza holds several Major League records for catchers in a Silver Slugger-winning season; most were set in 1997. That season, he had an on-base percentage of .431, and had 124 runs batted in (a total he matched in 1999) to lead the award-winning catchers in those statistical categories. Javy López holds the Major League records among winners for home runs (43) and slugging percentage (.687); these were set in 2003. Mauer holds the Major League record in batting average with a .365 clip he set in 2009. Mauer also leads the American League in on-base percentage (.444 in 2009) and slugging percentage (.587 in 2009). Parrish batted in 114 runs in 1983, and Fisk hit 37 home runs in 1985.

Putout

In baseball statistics, a putout (denoted by PO or fly out when appropriate) is given to a defensive player who records an out by one of the following methods:

Tagging a runner with the ball when he is not touching a base (a tagout)

Catching a batted or thrown ball and tagging a base to put out a batter or runner (a force out)

Catching a thrown ball and tagging a base to record an out on an appeal play

Catching a third strike (a strikeout)

Catching a batted ball on the fly (a flyout)

Being positioned closest to a runner called out for interference

Silver Slugger Award

The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball. These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver.The prize is presented to outfielders irrespective of their specific position. This means that it is possible for three left fielders, or any other combination of outfielders, to win the award in the same year, rather than one left fielder, one center fielder, and one right fielder. In addition, only National League pitchers receive a Silver Slugger Award; lineups in the American League include a designated hitter in place of the pitcher in the batting order, so the designated hitter receives the award instead.Home run record-holder Barry Bonds won twelve Silver Slugger Awards in his career as an outfielder, the most of any player. He also won the award in five consecutive seasons twice in his career: from 1990 to 1994, and again from 2000 to 2004. Retired former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza and former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are tied for second, with ten wins each. Rodriguez' awards are split between two positions; he won seven Silver Sluggers as a shortstop for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, and three with the Yankees as a third baseman. Wade Boggs leads third basemen with eight Silver Slugger Awards; Barry Larkin leads shortstops with nine. Other leaders include Ryne Sandberg (seven wins as a second baseman) and Mike Hampton (five wins as a pitcher). Todd Helton and Albert Pujols are tied for the most wins among first baseman with four, although Pujols has won two awards at other positions. David Ortiz has won seven awards at designated hitter position, the most at that position.

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