For more great baseball stories like this one, 'like' us on Facebook -

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Mike Piazza hit a lot of home runs in his Hall of Fame career, including one legendary shot

Vero Beach's young catcher Mike Piazza launched one just over the fence, 350 feet away, for the ninth inning game winner as he in this May 1990 contest. 

The shot could have easily been an out, the local Indian River Press Journal noted. Vero Beach's manager Joe Alvarez then went directly to a Hank Aaron reference.

"Like Hank Aaron said," Alvarez told The Press Journal. "It's not how far you hit it, it's how many you hit."

The reference ended up being an apt one for Piazza, in more ways than one. He went on to make the majors two seasons later. Over a 16-season major league career, he also ended up hitting a lot of home runs.

By the time he was done, he'd hit a total of 427 of them in the majors - the most ever for a catcher. One home run in particular would be cited among the most memorable ever, sending his Mets to the win in the club's first home game back post-9/11.

Then, in 2016, he officially became, like Aaron, a member of baseball's Hall of Fame.

Piazza's career began in 1988, taken by the Dodgers in the 62nd round of the draft out of Miami Dade College.

Piazza signed with the Dodgers as the 62nd round pick after he'd fallen through due to a college injury that year. The Los Angeles Times wrote. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda - actually Piazza's godfather - suggested the late pick to help Piazza get to a four-year school.

Piazza then paid his own way to an in-person tryout at Dodger Stadium and impressed enough to be signed, but not as an infielder, as a catcher - a position move suggested by Lasorda himself, The Times wrote.

Piazza then headed to the minors for 1989. He started at short-season Salem, then played at high-A Vero Beach for 1990. He then broke out at high-A Bakersfield in 1991. He hit .277, with 29 home runs and 80 RBI.

He made AA San Antonio and AAA Albuquerque for 1992, then got his call to Los Angeles that September. He hit .232 in 21 games.

Piazza then started 1993 with the big club and instantly made an impression. By the end of the season, he'd hit .310, hit 35 home runs, made the All-Star team and won the National League Rookie of the Year award going away.

Piazza continued with the Dodgers into 1998, making the All-Star squad each year, except 1998. He hit over .300 each season and hit at least 24 home runs. He hit .362, with 40 home runs in 1997.

The Dodgers then sent him to the Marlins in May 1998 and the Marlins, days later, sent him on to the Mets. He hit .348 down the stretch, with 24 home runs.

"There's no doubt that Mike will bring a different aura to our group," Mets manager Bobby Valentine told The Palm Beach Post as Piazza started his first spring with his new club in 1999. "He's special, he's that marquee player. He's a superstar."

Piazza then went out and hit .303, with another 40 home runs in 1999. In 2001, he hit .300, with 36 home runs. One of those 2001 home runs came Sept. 21, a two-run, eighth-inning shot that gave his New York Mets a 3-2 win in the first home game back since the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I'm just so happy I gave the people something to cheer," Piazza told The Associated Press afterward. "There was a lot of emotion. It was just a surreal sort of energy out there. I'm just so proud to be a part of it tonight."

Piazza continued playing through 2007. By the time he was done, he'd seen more than 1,900 major league games, hit .308 for his career and hit those 427 home runs.

In 2016, he was elected to the Hall of Fame

"Without a doubt Mike Piazza was one of the top hitting catchers in the history of the game," fellow Hall of Famer Tom Seaver said in a statement after Piazza's induction, according to The Hackensack Record. "For Mike to compile the stats he did while catching is amazing."
1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,837
Made the Majors:1,290-33.6%-X
Never Made Majors:2,547-66.4%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:528-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:322

No comments:

Post a Comment