February 25, 2016

Piazza’s Final MLB Road Trip... to Cooperstown

Etai Barash ‘18
Mike Piazza’s powerful, smooth swing enabled the right-handed catcher to strike fear into any pitcher he faced. The 62nd-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers became a perennial All Star, with 10 Silver Slugger awards, 427 career home runs, a .308 batting average and a .545 slugging percentage.
“He is only one of two Mets in the Hall of Fame,” said junior Nadav Aronoff. “I think he was a great catcher and he really deserves [the induction].”
After catching behind the plate for the Dodgers and the then-Florida Marlins for seven seasons, Piazza was traded to the Mets in 1998, where he and his team flourished, leading the team to two consecutive playoff appearances from 1999-2000 and an appearance in the 2000 World Series.
Piazza never won a World Series ring, but he did win something much more lucrative: the hearts of New Yorkers and many other patriotic Americans.
Ten days after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, baseball resumed with a game at Shea Stadium, pitting the Mets against the Atlanta Braves on an emotional night for the entire United States.
Atlanta was leading 1-0 late in the ballgame, when Piazza stepped up to bat. Piazza smacked the second pitch her saw into the stands for a home run to give the Mets the lead.
It just made New Yorkers able to live again,” said avid Mets fan, Rabbi Mayer. “It gave us a sense that the world was going to be OK.
“And even though 15 years later, we are still dealing with terrorism in the U.S., the fact is we have survived, we can survive and we will continue on.”
Despite his post-9/11 heroics, Piazza played during the late 1990s to early 2000s, an era of the sport that was flooded with steroid use. Accusations were made toward Piazza on his use of steroids, but PED usage has never been proven. Still, many voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame were skeptical of the integrity of his statistics. Arguably for this reason alone, Piazza was denied admission to the Hall of Fame for his first three years of eligibility.
Then, on January 6, 2016, Piazza was voted in, receiving 83 percent of the eligible votes, easily surpassing the required 75 percent minimum. Piazza called the experience "incredibly special,” knowing that he is now among the legends of the game.
Baseball fans will probably never see another Mike Piazza because no one will be able to emulate what the Mets Hall of Fame inductee did.

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