Sports

Baseball Hall Taps Piazza for Induction

New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 6. Photo courtesy New York Mets
New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 6. (Photo courtesy New York Mets)

For Michael Joseph Piazza, patience is a virtue.

Drafted in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB draft, no one really believed the young catcher – who some say was drafted as a favor to Piazza’s father Vince by Los Angles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda – would ever reach the Major Leagues.

But for Mike Piazza, patience is a virtue.

He spent four long years in the minor leagues traveling from city to city by bus and never knowing when or even if the call to the big leagues would come.

But for Mike Piazza, patience is a virtue.

Then even after he established himself as one of game’s best players as a member of the Dodgers, it took him some time to adjust to life in the Big Apple after being traded to the New York Mets.

But for Mike Piazza, patience is a virtue.

And even after proving himself worthy of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer who rightfully should have received the call to Cooperstown, back in 2013, it wasn’t until his fourth appearance on the ballot that he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

But of course to reiterate: For Mike Piazza, patience is a virtue.

The only part of the above paragraph that truly matters is now this: “he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.”

With 83.0 percent of the vote conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Piazza is headed to Cooperstown, and for all us die-hard Mets fans, the wait is over!

Piazza joins Seattle Mariners superstar Ken Griffey Jr. – who set a new record for highest percentage of the vote at 99.3 – as the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016.

And while Piazza of course said he is grateful for the support of teammates, coaches, mentors and his family members along the way, it was quite interesting who he thanked first of all when speaking about his induction.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for this blessing today,” Piazza said Jan. 7 at the Hall of Fame press conference held at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan.

Not his dad. Not Lasorda. Not his wife Alicia. But instead, Piazza – known for being a devout Catholic – thanked God first as the main reason this was all possible.

“I’m really honored, and it’s really overwhelming to think,” he added about his upcoming induction. “Thank you to the writers for voting us in. It’s so rewarding to be recognized by those who know this sport and know the gravitas of the hall and the history of this sport.”

As the 1,390th overall pick in the 1988 draft, Piazza becomes the lowest drafted player in baseball history to make the Hall of Fame. Against those odds, it naturally took plenty of faith along his journey to achieve enshrinement.

As a Mets fan, I did have faith too that Piazza would eventually receive the call. Though there had been some rumors loosely linking him to the usage of performance-enhancing drugs, there was never any concrete evidence, and thus any allegations should not have been held against him by the voters.

But after he came up short for the third time last year, I began having some doubts, even though his percentage had increased each year. To me, a player is either a Hall of Famer or he’s not, and it confuses me why some writers won’t vote for someone in one year but then come back the following year and cast a ballot for that player.

That’s another story entirely though, since I was ecstatic once I heard the announcement that Piazza would be heading to the Hall.

And to take it a step further, Piazza, who arguably had his best statistical years as a member of the Dodgers, filled every Mets fan with joy when it came time to choose which cap would appear on his Hall of Fame plaque.

“As much as I loved coming up with the Dodgers and I will always cherish my time there, I’m going to go in as a New York Met,” the 12-time All-Star said. “I feel like the fans here truly brought me into their family.

“Every time I’ve come back I’ve been so incredibly honored from the response. Unfortunately we do have to choose one. And, for me, I always sort of enjoyed reconnecting here in New York.”

Piazza was pretty spot on in his description of us Mets fans.

“It’s a mixture of love and frustration and ups and downs,” he said. “The emotions are very strong.”

Well right now, Mets fans, myself included, are on an emotional high that will likely last all the way up until Piazza’s enshrinement ceremony in Cooperstown on July 24. In fact, I hope to even be there in person if I can swing it, baseball pun intended!

So when looking at these recent events for Piazza, whose fourth time turned out being the charm, it teaches us all the patience really is a virtue.

Now all us local baseball fans have to worry about is getting Gil Hodges into the Hall of Fame to round out the Diocese of Brooklyn’s All-Star section in Cooperstown!


Contact Jim Mancari via email at jmmanc@gmail.com.

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