Mike Piazza was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Tim Rohan of the New York Times reports fans were at the Mets’ Citi Field, wore Piazza’s No. 31 jersey and cheered him on as he took the field for the ceremony before the Mets’ 3-2 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. Piazza’s former teammates, including Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez and John Franco, were on hand.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed September 29 as Mike Piazza Day.
An emotional Piazza stood behind the podium. He spoke about his tenure with the Mets and his Baseball Hall of Fame eligibility.
“If you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things. And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.
“The Hall of Fame, I truly feel I got a lot of support. It’s a process. I’m very proud of my career. Obviously I put my body of work up against anybody, I’ve said before. But, you know what? I truly feel the process is a beautiful thing as well. It is what it is.
“I mean, looking back, Yogi (Berra) had three ballots. And Joe Di Maggio three ballots.
“When you retire, you get retrospective. You think of things in the bigger picture. And so if I’m so blessed and honored to get to that point someday, I will enjoy it and be proud and wear the honor that is so important. Up until that point, I can only do like an artist — here’s my work, my canvas — and it’s out of my hands.
“The process, it’s cool and amazing and very interesting and historic. I know throughout history there is always going to be debate. That’s the best thing about baseball. That’s the best thing about sports.”
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News points out that the Mets’ Hall of Fame committee is comprised of Jay Horowitz of the Mets’ PR department, former pitcher Al Jackson as well as broadcasters Gary Cohen and Howie Rose.
This particular committe was aware of Piazza’s failure to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame in January as he got just 57.8 percent of the votes during his first year of eligibility. To be inducted, a player has to have at least 75 percent of the votes.
In his speech, Piazza also addressed the steroid era in baseball.
“I just feel it’s an unfortunate consequence of that era. Not to get into a deep dissertation of fault. In a perfect world, if we could go back and do things again, I’m sure we would have done a lot of things different. With that said, that’s just something I hate what happened to the game.
“But the positive is that you see how resilient the game is. You see at the end of the day it comes down to baseball. It is a game that has shown through its ups and downs and through its imperfection, it is a game that people really love. As I’ve said, I wish we could go back and do it differently. And I’m sure it would have been a different world.
“But I truly feel baseball doesn’t get enough credit for the fact they are trying to really make a statement — to understand there’s no place for PEDs in baseball and in sports in general.”
The 45-year-old Piazza reportedly earned an estimated $120 million during his 16-year MLB career, where he played for the Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, the then-Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics.
He will forever go down Mets lore as the batter who hit the first home run at the old Shea Stadium after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Piazza’s confrontation with former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens in Game 2 of the 2000 Subway Series will also be forever etched in the minds of New York baseball fans.