NEW YORK, N.Y.— Mike Piazza knows better than anybody the rigors of playing baseball in New York City, but the Hall of Fame catcher wouldn’t trade away his time in the Big Apple for anything in the world. Speaking at Thursday’s press conference at the New York Athletic Club, Piazza shed light on his decision to enter baseball’s hallowed museum donning a Mets cap instead of Dodgers one.
“But as far as my hat, I want to be very clear and say that as much as I loved coming up with the Dodgers, I will always cherish my time there, I'm going to go in as a New York Met,” noted Piazza. “Jeff and Sandy here, again, I enjoyed coming up with the Dodgers and had an amazing career there as far as getting to know Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, the Hall of Famers. But fortunately for me I eventually ended in New York in some way, shape or form and became a New York Met. I truly have a special relationship here with the fans of the Mets. Thank you very much”Footage courtesy of MLB NETWORK
The legendary backstop spent seven seasons with Dodgers and was drafted by Hall of Fame manager and fellow Norristown, P.A. native Tommy Lasorda in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB draft. Piazza was a longshot to make any impact at the Major League level and his hometown connection to Lasorda was a overriding factor in the organization deciding to give him a chance to break in as a professional. Piazza’s improbable meteoric rise to stardom began in Los Angeles, but in his mind his heart will always be in New York with the Mets.
“I'll tell you, I talked to Tommy last night, LaSorda, I talked to him this morning,” said Piazza. “I kind of told him what I was thinking. You know, I think this game is funny. We have sort of similar paths. Obviously when he went to the Cincinnati Reds, it's tough. I mean, for me, again, as much as I enjoyed my time there, I ended up in New York. 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. For me, I always sort of enjoyed reconnecting here in New York.”
From the 1,390th pick of the 1988 draft to Cooperstown, Piazza has enjoyed a wild ride and now joins the pantheon of MLB greats. Piazza’s story is an inspiration for aspiring ballplayers and a testament that if there’s a will, there’s a way.
“Wow. Just shows how great our sport is. You just need a chance. I was able to sneak into this game, kind of limp in, if you will. Through a lot of hard work and determination, some luck, some timing, was able to build a pretty good career.