Mike Piazza: Mets Hall of Famer (The Mets Years 1998 - 2005)

In 1997 there were contract disputes with Mike Piazza and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers parent company News Corp. wanted to also secure a major TV deal in South Florida. With all this on the table, Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins on May 15, 1998.

Piazza & future Mets teammate Todd Zeile went to the Marlins in exchange for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, and Jim Eisenreich. One week later, on May 22, 1997, Mike Piazza was traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall & Geoff Goetz. It turned out to be one of the best deals in Mets history.

As soon as he arrived in New York, Piazza was a star who helped turn the team around. He became the face of the organization over the next seven years, making the All-Star team every year but one, that he wore a Mets uniform. 

Mets Career: Piazza debuted at Shea Stadium on May 23rd, in game against the Milwaukee Brewers. He arrived one hour before game time & when he appeared in the dugout, the Shea crowd of 32,908 gave him a standing ovation. In the 5th inning he doubled, driving in Matt Franco helping Al Leiter to a 3-0 four hit shutout. The Mike Piazza era had begun & he instantly put the Mets back on the map. His impact was felt at the box office as well, the Mets averaging 18,000 a game before he arrived & after the trade the attendance was averaging 34,000 per game.

Piazza hit safely in his first nine Mets games & 26 of his first 29 Mets games.

On June 1st he hit his first HR as a Met in Pittsburgh & came back the next day to hit another. On July 18th he had a two HR day against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. 

On August 7th he helped the Mets to an 8-7 win in Colorado with a three hit, three RBI day that included a HR. When the Rockies came to Shea Piazza continued to hit well against them. 

In the second game of an August 18th double header, he came to bat in the 7th inning, with the bases loaded & the Mets down 3-1. He cleared the bases with a double putting the Mets ahead for good. The next day he drove in one of the two Mets runs in the 2-1 win.

On August 22nd he hit a grand slam HR off Andy Benes of the Arizona Diamondbacks. That week he hit five HRs & drove in twelve runs. During the month of August He had nine multiple RBI games. That month he hit nine HRs & drove in 30 RBIs closing out the month batting .320. He started out the month of September hitting HRs in three straight games & having a ten game hit streak. 

On September 16th, with the Mets down 2-0 in the top of the 9th inning at Houston, Piazza connected for a three run HR off Billy Wagner giving the Mets a 3-2 win over the Astros.

As a total in 1998 he hit .328 (4th in the NL) with 32HRs 38 doubles 88 runs scored a .390 on base % & 111 RBIs. His four grand slams in 1998 (with two different teams) led the majors. He also drew 14 intentional walks (3rd in the NL). With the arrival of Piazza, the Mets were now a new team back in contention; they missed the post season by just one game.

In the next two years Piazza helped the Mets to two consecutive playoff appearances. It was the only time in franchise history this was done 1999 and 2000.

1999 Mets Wild Card Season: Piazza began the season with another Opening Day double in the Mets 6-2 loss in Florida to the Marlins. The next day he hit his first HR of the year, driving in two runs in the Mets 12-3 win. 

On April 9th he had a big day in Montreal, with three hits a three run HR & five RBIs helping beat the Expos 10-3. But then he was sidelined with injury from April 9th through the April 25th. In his return he had an RBI single in the Mets 8-4 loss to the Cubs. 

Walk Off HR: On April 28th, the Mets went into the 8th inning with a 2-1 lead over the Padres. But Armando Benitez, allowed two walks, along with RBI doubles to Tony Gwynn & Phil Nevin putting the Mets behind 3-2. In the bottom of the 9th John Olerud singled then Piazza hit a walk off two run HR San Diego, off relief ace Trevor Hoffman, giving New York the 4-3 win.

In May he had a seven-game hit streak, with a three-hit day on May 9th in Arizona. Piazza drove in a run that day & then had an RBI in each of the three games at Colorado on that road trip.

 His average was up over .300 by the middle of the month & he never fell below that mark again all season. In the first three weeks of the month, he drove in 11 runs in 16 games. He drove in five runs in a three-game set against the Brewers at Shea, then four runs in a three-game set in Pittsburgh, highlighted by a HR & double off Kris Benson, with a three RBI night on May 25th.

Hit Streak: That night he began a 24-game hitting streak, where Piazza collected 36 hits, with eleven multi-hit games. In that stretch he batted .353 with 8 HRs 10 doubles 18 RBIs & a 1.060 OPS. In the latter end of the streak the Mets won 12 of 14 games. At the end of the streak, he was batting .326 with 16 HRs & 44 RBIs.

Subway Series: Piazza collected hits in the first two games of the subway series in the Bronx, both which the Mets lost. In the June 6th Sunday Night Baseball Game, he hit a two run HR off Roger Clemens in the 3rd inning in the Mets 7-2 win. In that game the Mets rocked Clemens for seven runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings of work. Piazza also doubled off Clemens to start the four-run 2nd inning.

Piazza then hit another HR the next day off Roy Halladay, in an 8-2 interleague win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Shea. It was his 11th HR of the year. On June 11th, he hit his 12th HR & collected three walks in a loss to the Boston Red Sox. From June 18th through June 22nd, he homered in three of four games, while driving in five runs in those games.

On July 4th, the rival Braves were in town & jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the 1st, Piazza tied the game with a two-run single off John Smoltz. The Mets went on to an exciting 7-6 win, highlighted by Edgardo Alfonzo's 8th inning three run HR.

On July 8th, he hit his 17th HR off the year, coming against the Expos at Shea, it was the first of a three-game stretch where he homered. 

More Subway Series HRs:
On Friday July 9th, in front of a sell out at Shea, Piazza once again homered off Roger Clemens. This time a three-run shot in the 6th inning breaking a 3-3 tie, to deep left center field. The Mets won the game behind Al Leiter 5-2. The next day, the Mets won it in walk off fashion when Matt Franco singled home Rickey Henderson with the winning run. 

In that game Piazza had a 1st inning RBI double & 7th inning three run HR off Ramiro Mendoza putting the Mets ahead 7-6. In the series he had seven hits with two HRs & seven RBIs. That week he won the NL Player of the Week Award as his legendary status was growing with Mets fans.

1999 All Star Game: Piazza made his second All Star start representing the Mets at the Mid-Summer Classic at Fenway Park. He struck out & then singled off David Cone in his two at bats in the AL's 4-1 win.

On July 30th, Piazza hit a two run HR & a sac fly RBI off the Cubs & future Met, Steve Trachsel, in the Mets 10-9 win at Wrigley Field.

In August the Mets began the month with a road series sweep in Milwaukee, where Piazza drove in runs in all three games. He hit HRs in the first two games, his 22nd HR came off Hideo Nomo, as Robin Ventura & Darryl Hamilton also went deep. The next night, Piazza hit his 23rd HR of the year, a three-run shot off (future Met) David Weathers. Piazza drove in four runs in that game. He totaled eight RBIs with four hits in the series. 

RBI's In Ten Straight Games: In the middle of the month, from August 13th to August 22nd, Piazza had an incredible stretch of hitting HRs in seven of eight games & drove in runs in ten straight games, setting a franchise record.

On August 13th, in San Francisco he collected three hits & hit his 24th HR of the season. It was the first of four straight games he would hit a HR in. The next day he hit his 25th HR & had four hits in the Mets 6-1 win over the Giants. The next day Piazza homered off Alan Embry, a two-run shot getting him to 86 RBIs on the year. On August 16th in San Diego, Piazza homered off Sterling Hitchcock for his 27th of the year & the fourth straight game he hit a HR in.

He drove in a run in the next game, a 3-2 Mets loss. On August 18th, he & Robin Ventura both connected for their team leading 28 HRs. For Ventura he reached the 100 RBI mark, Piazza continued his RBI streak at six games & would now HR in three straight games. 

On Saturday August 21st, the Cardinals came to Shea & Piazza wasted no time hitting a 1st inning three run HR off Kent Merker. After a rain out on Saturday, the Mets played a twin bill on Sunday. Piazza hit his 30th HR of the season in that game, it came right after Jon Olerud hit a grand slam, as the Mets tied up the game. Mark McGwire hit his 50th & 51st HRs in that game, but the Mets still won it 8-7. In the night cap Piazza came to bat in the 9th inning delivering a two run pinch hit single, but the Mets came up short 7-5. In that ten-game stretch he had 19 hits, with 7 HRs & 20 RBIs, getting his batting average to .325.

In the month of August, he hit 11 HRs & drove in 32 runs with eight multi-hit games. 

During the September pennant race, Piazza would have three separate back-to-back HR games. He began the month with a four hit game in Houston, where the Mets won 9-5.

On September 8th Piazza hit a three-run shot off San Francisco's Miguel Del Toro in a 7-5 win over the Giants at Shea. The next day the Mets flew to Los Angeles & Piazza hit a two run HR in the 6th inning, as two former Dodgers in Piazza & Orel Hershiser led the Mets to a 3-1 win. 

On September 11th, Piazza had four hits including a two run HR off the Dodgers' Ismael Valdez, his 35th of the year. In the series finale, he drove in two more runs in the Mets 10-3 win, as they took three of four in L.A with Piazza collecting six hits, two HRs & six RBIs. The Mets were now atop the wild card race by a game & a half.

After Piazza hit his 36th HR in a win at Philadelphia, they went to Atlanta for a big series with the Braves. Piazza hit HRs in two of the three games, but the Mets were swept in the series & went on a seven-game losing streak. They fell eight games behind the Braves & 2.5 games behind the Reds in the wild card race. Even the Astros had past the Mets in the wild card race.

As the 1999 season came to an end the Mets were playing to win the card title & a win guaranteed them at least a tie.

On October 1st, Piazza hit a 6th inning HR off the Pirates Jason Schmidt, after the Pirates tied the game, Robin Ventura won it with a walk off single. The next day on October 2nd, Piazza hit a two run HR in the Mets five run 8th inning, sealing a win over the Pirates. 

On October 3rd, the last game of the scheduled regular season, Piazza came to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning. Pirates' pitcher Brad Clontz came in to face Piazza & threw a wild pitch scoring Melvin Mora with the game's winning run. The Mets win forced a game #163, as they tied with the Reds for the wild card spot. The Mets lost a coin toss & the tie breaker game was played in Cincinnati.

Tie Breaker Game:
In the one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds to determine the wild card winner Pizza walked three times, once intentionally. Al Leiter shut out the Reds 5-0, as Edgardo Alfonzo led the offense with a two run HR & three RBI's. 

For the 1999 season, Mike Piazza in the opinion of Mets fans, was the NL MVP. He led the team with 40 HRs (7th in the NL) which was the third highest mark ever for a catcher in a single season. 

He set a Mets all-time single season record with 124 RBIs (seventh most in the league). Piazza hit .303 with 162 hits 25 doubles 100 runs scored a .361 on base % a .936 OPS. He drew 51 walks with 11 intentional walks (8th in the NL). 

The slow-footed Piazza, hit into a league leading 27 double plays for the season, also setting a Mets club record. Behind the plate he allowed a league leading 115 stolen bases throwing out just 24% of would-be base stealers. He also made 11 errors (2nd in the NL) but led all catchers with 953 put outs.  That season he finished Third in the MVP Award voting but won another Silver Slugger Award at catcher.

Post Season 1999 NLDS:
In the NLDS victory the Arizona Diamondbacks, Piazza had a hit in each of the first two games but was then sidelined for last two games with an injury. Overall, he batted .222 in the series as the Mets advanced to the NLCS.

1999 NLCS: In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves Piazza returned to action & was hitless in the first two games.

In Game #3 at Shea Stadium, his 1st inning error on a double steal, allowed Gerald Williams to score the only run of the game in the Mets 1-0 loss. Al Leiter & Tom Glavine battled it out for seven innings before giving way to the bullpens. 

Piazza collected two of the Mets seven hits. The Mets were down 3-0 in the series.

In Game #5 Piazza caught 13 innings of the classic 14 inning game won by Robin Ventura's walk off grand slam HR. 

In the top of the 12th with the score tied Chipper Jones doubled to right field, Melvin Mora threw home to Piazza, he blocked the plate held his ground, caught the ball & tagged out Keith Lockhart who ran into a brick wall of Mike Piazza. Lockhart was out & the game went on.....

In Game #6 the Mets entered the 7th inning down 7-3. Rickey Henderson & John Olerud drove in runs to get it 7-5. Piazza then hit a two run HR off John Smoltz, to tie up the game. He had earlier had an RBI sac fly as well. 

In the 10th inning the Mets took the lead on Todd Pratt's sac fly, but Armando Benitez blew it when pinch hitter Ozzie Guillen singled to score Andruw Jones to tie it again. The Mets eventually lost it in the 11th inning when Kenny Rodgers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded. 

Overall, In the '99 NLCS Piazza hit .167 with just four hits, with a HR & four RBIs, striking out six times. Overall, he was 6-33 in the 1999 post season.

Heavy Metal Trivia: Piazza is an avid fan of Heavy Metal music. Upon his coming to the plate his entrance song was Iron Maiden's- The Prisoner.  His also godfather to guitarist Zakk Wylde's son, Hendrix. Piazza often cohosted Eddie Trunk's That Metal Show in New York. Piazza also plays the drums.

2000 NL Pennant season:  The Mets began the season with a two-game set in Tokyo, Japan against the Chicago Cubs. In the opener Piazza had two hits with a two run HR, but the Mets took a 5-3 loss.

On April 7th his RBI double in the 1st inning was one of just two runs scored in the Mets 2-1 win over the Dodgers at Shea.

After a bit of slow start in the first week he went on a seven game hit streak where he gathered up 17 hits. 

Five Hit Day: On April 14th at Pittsburgh, Piazza had a season high five hit game, including two HRs with four RBIs & three extra base hits in a 8-5 win 12 inning Mets win. Piazza had an RBI double & solo HR off Jason Schmidt & then a three run shot off Jose Silva in the top of the 12th. 

He closed out April batting .368 with 13 RBIs but had an even better month of May.

Piazza began May, with a nine-game hit streak & would hit safely in 20 of 21 games. He hit back-to-back HRs in games on May 4th & 5th, then two more the next week in Mets losses.

Grand Slam: On May 14th, he hit a grand slam off the Marlins Brad Penny in Florida, leading New York to a 5-1 win. It was his 10th HR of the year & the first grand slam of the year for Piazza, he would hit 14 in his career.

On May 19th his two run HR at Shea Stadium off tArizona's Todd Stottlemyre put the Mets ahead for good, as the bullpen held on to a 4-3 lead for the win. On May 23rd in a game in San Diego, Piazza came to bat in the top of the 10th inning as a pinch hitter in a 3-3 tie. He then hit a two-run game winning HR off Trevor Hoffman, giving Turk Wendel the win, as Armando Benitez came on for the save. It was Piazza's 12 HR of the year & his 9th in the month of May. He ended May batting  .372 with nine HRs & 20 RBIs. 

Subway Series Grand Slam:
On June 9th the highly anticipated 2000 regular season version of the sub way series opened up with Al Leiter taking on Roger Clemens in the Bronx. 

In the 3rd inning, Clemens & the catcher Jorge Posada were having trouble, with two errors, two walks & a passed ball, loading the bases for Mike Piazza.

Piazza who always seemed to come through & "owned' the known steroid using Clemens, blasted his second grand slam of the season, putting the Mets up 4-0. Piazza had three hits in the game, as the Mets rolled along to an 12-2 romp, where Clemens gave up nine runs on ten hits in five innings of work. 

Trivia: In eight regular season match ups between Piazza & Clemens, Piazza batted .412 with four HRs eight extra base hits & ten RBIs. 

Mets Record 15 Game RBI Streak: From June 14th through to July 2nd, Piazza seta Mets record, where he drove in at least one run in 15 straight games. In that stretch he hit eight HRs with twenty-five RBIs, including ten multiple RBI games.

On June 14th he hit his 17th HR of the year, with two hits & three RBIs in the Mets 10-8 win

avoiding a sweep at Wrigley Field. As the mid-west road trip took them to Milwaukee, Piazza hit his 18th HR on June 16th & then had two more RBIs the next day in a Mets loss to the Brewers.
On June 18th, he drove in his 50th run of the season, with a two-run double in the Mets 7-3 win.

The Mets flew back to New York, losing the first two games to the Phillies although Piazza homered in the first two contests. He earned an off day in the series finale. The Pirates came to town & the Mets swept them with Piazza hitting a three run HR off Bronson Arroyo in the opener, for his 21st of the year. 

Piazza had RBI doubles, with a pair of runs driven in in each of the next two games as well. He then continued his streak with RBIs in two games he played in against the Marlins. 
On June 28th, his 3rd inning RBI single tied his own Mets record of ten straight games with an RBI.

On June 29th, the rival Braves came to town up two games on the Mets in the standings. In the 3rd inning Piazza hit a two-run single off John Burkett, setting the new Mets record for consecutive RBI games. The Mets fell short of a win losing 6-4.

Friday June 30th, 2000:
The next night, the Mets had one of their biggest comebacks & one of their biggest innings in team history. They scored ten runs in the 8th inning after being down 8-1, to beat the Braves 11-8 in front of 52,831 fans at Shea Stadium. 

In that historic 8th inning, they sent 13 men to the plate, had six hits with the help of four walks issued by Braves pitching. The highlight was a three run HR by Mike Piazza breaking the tie & putting the Mets ahead 11-8. It was his 22nd HR of the year, he now had 68 RBIs while driving in run in a 13 straight games. He had singled earlier in the inning as well. He was batting .368 as the Shea crowd chanted MVP!

 On July 1st, Piazza hit his 23rd HR, it came off Greg Maddox in a seven-run 2nd inning as the Mets & Al Leiter cruised to a 9-1 victory, as Piazza's RBI streak reached 14 games. The next night he hit his 24th HR of the year, and finished his streak of driving in runs at 15 games.

Subway Series Beaning: The Mets rivalry with their cross-town opponents heated up in the Piazza years with the early most excitable years of inter league play. Piazza always hit the AL New York teams pitching very well, especially Roger Clemens. In the next month’s subway series in the second game of a day / night cross town double header, the Steroids got the best of Mr. Clemens. 

On July 8th, Clemens hit Piazza in the head with a fastball sending him to the ground & forcing him to leave the game. Piazza suffered a concussion and was forced to miss the 2000 All-Star Game in which he was voted to start once again.

At the All Star break he had 72 RBIs which were the most ever by a Met, as he broke Dave Kingman's old record of 69. By the end of July he was among the NL leaders in hitting batting at .350. 

Somehow, Piazza would miss just five games & be back as the team's designated hitter in the interleague games with the American League on the road. In his second game back, on July 14th, he hit a pair of HRs at Fenway Park leading the Mets to a 6-4 win. The next day he hit another HR in the Mets 6-4 loss to the Red Sox.

I got the chance to meet Piazza that summer on a trip to see the Mets play at Skydome in Toronto. We met at a newspaper shop in the office building that houses the Hockey Hall of Fame.

I was wearing my #31 Piazza shirt prior to the nights game, and a gentleman pushing a baby carriage told me the real Mike Piazza was in that new stand store. At first I said “No way”, but I looked and there was a guy who looked just like Piazza, dressed in a suit wearing sun glasses.

I approached him slowly saying “hey Mike!”. At first he didn’t respond, but I didn’t go away, calling to him again “Hey Mike” & then he looked up. I admit I went off like a crazed fan, telling him I was from New York, up here to go to the game tonight. I asked if he would mind taking pictures with us & he did with no problem. He was a true gentleman and a very nice guy to us.

We talked a bit on the way out, I first asked how he was feeling from getting hit in the head the previous week. He said he was feeling better & that the bean ball was part of the game. He laughed when I said to bad you just couldn't beat the hell out of him without getting suspended, he just laughed. I told him that as a lifelong Met fan, the only names I would wear on my back was his & Tom Seaver’s. He thanked me & he said it was much appreciated.

That night in the game against the Blue Jays at Sky Dome, he was the team’s DH. In the 5th inning with the game tied 3-3, Piazza came to bat against Chris Carpenter with the bases loaded. He did not disappoint, he hit a grand slam HR exciting me & the other Mets fans in attendance.  cheered proudly from my third base box seat, with my #31 Piazza shirt on as he rounded the bases, almost feeling like he hit it for me.

It was his third grand slam of the season; he would hit 14 in his career. This HR was #28 on the season as he now had surpassed the 80 RBI mark (81) leading the Mets to an 11-7 win. 

On July 29th, he hit a 3rd inning RBI single to tie up the game at one, then he hit a leadoff 6th inning HR off the Cardinals' Andy Benes to tie up the game at three. The Mets went on to a 4-3 win led by Lenny Harris' pinch hit RBI single in the 8th. 

The Mets began August five games back of the Braves but atop the wild card running by 2.5 games. In a five-game stretch in early August he drove in twelve runs, as the Mets went on a seven-game win streak. 

On August 9th, he reached the 30 HR mark for the seventh time in his career, hitting a three-run shot in Houston off the Astros Wayne Franklin in 12-5 Met win. 

The next day, a Thursday matinee, Piazza had four hits with three RBI singles & his 22nd double of the year in the Mets 10-2 win at Houston.

On August 11th the Mets were back at Shea hosting Barry Bonds & his Giants, Piazza gave the
33,944 fans a thrill with his 31st HR of the year, as Glendin Rusch, Rick White, John Franco & Armando Benitez held the Giants to a run in a 4-1 win. This was an NLDS preview of the post season to come. 
On August 18th, Piazza hit a two run HR off Kevin Brown in L.A. & added an RBI single in the 9th inning of the Mets 5-3 win.

The Mets entered September taking over first place, leading the Braves by a half game & were 5.5 games ahead in the wild card race.

He cooled off a bit in early September but hit well down the stretch at the end of the season. But they lost eight of ten & were now three games back of the Braves. Through September 20th Piazza had cooled down & only driven in three runs in the month.

After losing two games to the Braves, Piazza crushed his 36th HR of the year in Atlanta as the Mets salvaged the final game of the series 6-1, once again behind Al Leiter's pitching. He hit his final HRs of the 2000 regular season in a multiple HR game at Philadelphia on September 22 against the Phillies in a 9-6 win.

The Mets went on to win nine of their last eleven games, earning the top wild card spot.

Piazza was again denied the MVP award. He would finish third in the voting, but certainly should have won the Award in the hearts of Mets fans, as he helped carry the team to the World Series. 

He put up huge numbers leading his team in hitting batting .324 (10th in the league) with 38 HRs (10th in the league) 113 RBIs  90 runs scored 26 doubles 58 walks & a .398 on base %. His .614 slugging % was 9th in the league & he posted a 1.012 OPS.

Defensively had led all NL catchers with a .997 fielding %, catching 124 games behind the plate (3rd most in the NL) making 862 put outs (2nd in the NL). He once again allowed the most stolen bases in the league (110) for the third straight year & the seventh time in his career.

2000 Post Season -NLDS: In the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, he drew a walk but went hitless in the opener at San Francisco in the Giants 5-1 win. 

In Game #2 he gathered up two hits & a walk as the Mets won it in extra innings 5-4, helped by Jay Payton's RBI single. 

Piazza then got just one more hit in the final two games. In the series he hit .214 (3-14) with four walks, no RBIs or runs scored.

2000 NLCS: In the 2000 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, he broke out of his slump, batting .412 going 7 -17 with two HRs three doubles, four RBIs & seven runs scored. 

In Game #1 his first inning double off Darryl Kile drove in the first run of the game of the Mets 6-2 win. In Game #2 at St. Louis, he led off the 3rd inning with a HR off Britt Reames and Stadium.

In Game #4 he hit another HR, a solo shot off Mike James in the 4th inning putting the Mets up 8-3. In the game he scored three runs, had two hits & a walk as the Mets beat the Cardinals 10-6 going up three games to one.

In the final Game #5 at a wild Shea Stadium (centerfieldmaz was there) Piazza went 1-4 with a walk & two runs scored. In the bottom of the 1st, he walked & advanced to third on a Robin Ventura single. He then scored on Todd Zeile's ground out, force play.  

He later doubled in the 4th inning & scored on Todd Zeile's bases loaded three run double.

For the first time since 1986 the Mets won the pennant advancing to the World Series.

2000 Subway World Series: The 2000 Subway World Series was the first since 1956, two years later the Dodgers & Giants left for the West Coast. There was an enormous amount of hype & build up around the series. Piazza was clearly the star of the Mets & the face of their franchise.

In Game #1 of the Subway World Series, he hit a deep fly ball in his first at bat just missing a HR. He went 1-4 in the game batting third as the teams DH in the 4-3 extra inning (12) heart breaking loss.

 In Game #2, one of the strangest World Series scenes occurred, as matchup of Piazza & Clemens came to a head on the world stage. 

In the 1st inning Piazza fouled off a Clemens pitch & his bat broke in half with the barrel flying towards the pitcher's mound. It landed at Clemens's feet, in a rage he picked up the broken barrel and threw it in the direction of Piazza who was trotting up the first base line.

The home plate umpire, Charlie Reliford stepped in the middle of the two, giving both teams a warning, as both benches cleared. No punches were thrown & no other incidents occurred from there on. There were no ejections just a lot of talk.

The Mets were down 6-0 in the top of the 9th inning but made a comeback effort scoring five runs, falling one short. After Edgardo Alfonzo led off with a single, Piazza left his mark in the Bronx with a two run HR off Jeff Nelson over the left field wall.

In Game #3 at Shea Stadium, centerfieldmaz was in attendance with 56,059 as the World Series returned to She for the first time in 14 years. In the 6th inning, the Mets were down 2-1 to Orlando Hernadez. Piazza led off with a ground rule double & then scored the tying run on Todd Ziele's double. 

The Mets went on to win the game on Benny Agbayani's 8th inning RBI double, giving the Met fans one final World Series thrill at Shea, as it was the last Series victory in that ball park.

In Game #4 Piazza drove in the Mets only two runs 
with a two run HR in the 4th inning off Denny Negale. The Mets lost this game by one run as well 3-2. 

In the final Series Game #5, Piazza had the only Mets extra base hit, going 2-5. He made the last out of the Series with a long fly ball to centerfield that almost tied the game, missing a HR by inches.

In the 2000 World Series he hit .273 (6-22) with two HRs two doubles & four RBIs with three runs scored.

After the Pennant: 
Following the Mets NL pennant season, the Mets regrouped but did not make any big off-season additions, except pitcher Kevin Appier. As a result, the team did not improve & fell short of making the post season.

Piazza started 2001 off with an Opening Day two run HR off Tom Glavine, in his first at bat of the season in  a 6-4 Mets win in Atlanta. 

A few days later in the April 9th, home opener at Shea Stadium, where the Mets raised the NL Pennant flag, Piazza hit two HRs & drove in five runs in the Mets 7-5 win over the Braves. 

In the first week of the season, he hit four HRs with ten RBIs. On April 26th in Milwaukee, he had another multi-HR night, although the Mets took a 12-8 loss. On April 28th, he hit a two run HR helping the Mets in a 6-5 win at St. Louis. In the first two games of a three-game set with the Astros, Piazza hit HRs & drove in five runs as the Mets took both games. 

During the month of May his average fell off to .262. At the end of the month he HRs in three straight games, the first in a 5-4 win over the Marlins, then one each of the first two games with the Phillies at Shea. Going into the start of June he hit two more HRs, giving him five HRs over a seven-game span. He now had 15 on the season. 

More Subway Series Heroics: On June 17th, in the Sunday Night baseball subway series match up at Shea Stadium, the Mets were down 7-2 in the 8th inning. They sent nine men to the plate & scored six runs, highlighted by Piazza's two run blast off Carlos Almanzar. The Mets salvaged one game in the series with an 8-7 win.

 In July he hit safely in 14 of 16 games getting his average back over .290. He hit another HR in the first game of the July subway series, then drove in the games first run, with a base hit off Mariano Rivera in the top of the 10th inning. The Mets scored three times for the 3-0 win. Kevin Appier had shut out the AL New York team for eight innings.

2001 All Star Game: Piazza made his fourth straight start as a New York Mets in the All-Star Game held at Safe Co. Field. He went 0-2 in the AL's 4-1 win.

He then drove in runs in all three games of a series with the Blue Jays at Shea Stadium. On July 17th his 2nd inning RBI single off Chris Carpenter was the only run of the game in an Al Leiter (seven inning) shut out.

On July 27th he hit two HRs against the Phillies Wayne Gomes at Shea Stadium, driving in three of the Mets six runs, giving him 25 HRs on the season. 

Walk Off HR: Two nights later on July 29th, he had three hits & three RBIs in a 6-5 win over the
Phillies. In the bottom of the 9th, he hit a walk off HR off Philadelphia’s Rheal Cormier. He surpassed 60 RBIs getting to 63 on the season.

On August 10th Piazza hit a three run HR in St. Louis off Woody Williams in the 1st inning. In the 7th, with the Mets behind 5-5 He later doubled driving in the tying run collecting four RBI's on the day, although the Mets went on to lose it in extra innings. 

In Los Angeles on August 18th, he doubled with the bases loaded driving in two runs as Edgardo Alfonso was thrown out at home plate. The Mets hung on to a 5-4 win. The next day Piazza hit two HRs (one off Chan Ho Park & one-off Giovani Carra) & had another four RBI Day leading New York to a 6-5 win. It was the third time that season he had driven in four runs or more in a game.

On August 31st in Colorado, Piazza hit his 30th HR of the season, it was the eighth time in his career he reached that milestone. On August 31st he was batting .289 with 30 HRs & The Mets were struggling eight games behind the first place Braves & seven behind the Phillies. Even the wild card seemed out of reach. No one expected what was going to happen to New York City in the month of September.

In September New York, America & baseball were all shocked by the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center. The 911 attacks were one of the worst tragedies this country ever had to face, as thousands of Americans lost their lives on that historic day. 

Baseball play was halted for seven days, as the country tried to regroup. Mike Piazza like many other of the Mets players helped in the relief efforts as Shea Stadium was used as a supply stop for the rescue & emergency workers.

Baseball resumed on September 17th in Pittsburgh as the Mets took on the Pirates. That night
Piazza quietly went 0-3 but walked in the Mets 4-1 win. From there he got hot, he hit HRs in three straight games, including one of his most memorable on September 21st. 

The 911 Game: 41,235 fans came out to Shea Stadium for the first game played back in New York City after the 911 tragedies. It was a very emotional night at Shea Stadium, as baseball returned & the city tried to move forward. Many of the NYFD, NYPD & Port Authority workers were invited as were families of the victims. Those who perished & or injured were honored as there was special performances by Diana Ross, Michael Anthony & Liza Minelli. It was an emotional night in New York City. 

The Mets took on their rival Atlanta Braves & even these two teams let their game down embracing each other & showing their support.

As for the game itself, the score was tied going into the top of the 8th inning. With two outs John Franco allowed a walk to Julio Franco & a single to Chipper Jones. Armando Benitez was brought in but allowed a double to Brian Jordan, as the Braves took a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the 8th inning the fans were a bit down, Matt Lawton grounded out for the first out. But then Edgardo Alfonzo walked & Desi Relaford came in to pinch run. Mike Piazza then came to bat against Queens born pitcher, Steve Karsay. 

Piazza connected with a tremendous HR, a two-run blast putting the Mets ahead in what turned out to be the winning run. It was one of the most important HRs of his career, mainly in terms of what it meant to the moment of that evening at that tragic time in American / New York history.

The Shea Stadium Crowd went crazy, erupting to an emotional frenzy. 

The fans, the families of the victims, the city workers & officials including the mayor, all jumped for joy embracing each other in the first happy moment in a long time. 

 It has become one of Piazza's defining moments in his time in New York as he lifted the city and baseball to the next level. It was symbolic to everyone to try to begin to put 911 behind us all.

Quotes: In the DVD “Shea Goodbye” Braves nemesis Chipper Jones said it was the only time he didn’t mind losing a game, seeing what it meant to the city and the country.

The win put the Mets just 4.5 games behind the Braves in third place, as the reigning NL Champions were back in the race. Unfortunately, the Mets fell out of the race in the coming weeks & finished up 82-80 in third place six games back of Atlanta.

For 2001 Piazza hit .300 with 36 HRs, 151 hits, 29 doubles 94 RBIs, 81 runs scored 29 doubles & a .384 on base %. He drew 19 intentional walks (6th in the league). 

He caught 131 games behind the plate (3rd in the NL) allowing 114 stolen bases throwing out just 22%. He posted a .991 fielding % with 919 put outs (3rd in the NL).

2002: There was some early excitement at Shea Stadium as in the off season the Mets got Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn & Jeromy Burnitz as additions to the team. Unfortunately, none those moves worked out & the Mets fell to ahorrible fifth-place finish. It would also be Bobby Valentines last year as the team's manager.

Piazza had a good start to the year batting .306 at the end of April with seven HRs. 

On April 15th he hit two HRs against the Atlanta Braves helping the team to a 7-6 win. 

Six RBI Day: On April 30th in a game at Arizona, Piazza hit a 1st inning three run HR off Rick Helling. In the 2nd, he came back to hit a two run HR off Helling. He later grounded out scoring another runner to give him six RBIs on the day.

On May 10th, he had a four RBI day against the Rockies, including a two run HR.

Grand Slam HR: On May 17th he hit a grand slam HR off Jason Boyd, at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, as the Mets went on to a 13-4 win. It was his second four RBI game of that week. 

On May 29th his 7th inning HR was the game winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Phillies at Shea Stadium. 

During interleague play in June Piazza hit HRs in Cleveland & Chicago.

More Subway Series Heroics: On June 15, 2002, in another regular season Subway Series game, drama was at its highest level, when Roger Clemens made a media hyped-up return to Shea Stadium. It meant Clemens would have to come to bat with their being no designated hitter rule in the NL ballpark.

All everyone in New York talked about all week was the matchup. The Mets fans (including centerfieldmaz) were there at Shea giving hell to Clemens & his team mates all game long. In the 3rd inning, Mets pitcher Sean Estes was on the mound as Clemens came to bat. 

With everyone holding their breath, the moment didn't live up to the hype, as Estes threw a pitch behind Clemens' head but not close to hitting him. It seemed people wanted to see Clemens have to hit the dirt in revenge, although it did not happen. The situation ended there & the moment was gone. Clemens struck out looking. 

But Piazza was a Clemens & AL New York killer if there ever was one. In the 6th inning he gave the Shea Mets fans a huge thrill by hitting yet another HR off Clemens. This time a solo shot putting the Mets up 4-0 on their way to an 8-0 win. 

That day even Mets pitcher Sean Estes hit a HR in the 5th inning off Clemens. It was a great day for Mets fans.

As the series shifted across town later in the month, Piazza hit another HR on June 29th in the Mets 11-2 win.

On July 3rd at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia Piazza hit two three run HRs, driving in six of the Mets eight runs in their 8-7 win. He matched his season high six RBI game.

In the first two weeks of July, in a ten-game stretch He drove in 18 runs with 14 hits. In the month of July, he drove in 24 runs with seven HRs. 

On July 19th & 20th he hit HRs in back-to-back games at Cincinnati.

In September he hit HRs in back-to-back games twice in the first ten days of the month. In the month Piazza hit safely in eighteen of twenty-two games.

On September 9th he hit a grand slam HR against the Phils in a 6-4 Mets win. On September 14th he hit two HRs against the Expos to reach the 30 HR mark for the ninth & final time in his career. In four full seasons with the Mets he had hit 30 or more HRs each time.

He closed out the year with a two run HR against the Braves in a 6-1 Mets win. 

Piazza was steady with his usual numbers in 2001 but for the first time in his career, his batting average dropped under .300 as he hit .280.

He still led the team in HRs (33) RBIs (98) & a .359 on base %. He hit 23 doubles with 57 walks 69 runs scored & 134 hits. He caught 121 games behind the plate with a .986 fielding %, throwing out just 18% of base runners trying to steal.

Tour of Europe -Rome: In the off season he represented MLB
in a three-week tour of Europe, visiting London, Berlin & Rome. Piazza being a strong Catholic had an audience with the Pope. He promoted the Italian baseball Olympic team & held clinics for kids as well.

2003: Injuries & age started to catch up to Piazza by 2003, mainly due to all the years of taking a beating behind the plate. He would only play in 68 games in the disappointing season, hitting 11 HRs with 13 doubles 34 RBIs a .377 on base % while batting .286. 2003 was the first time in his seven years as a Met that he did not make the All-Star team.

In 64 games behind the plate, he posted a .982 fielding % throwing out 28% of runners trying to steal. 

Experiment at First Base: It was during this year that the Mets wanted to try using Piazza at first base to ease the stress on his knees. It was a highly publicized experiment placing him at first base & something that never worked out.

In April he hit HRs in back to back games at Pittsburgh. One of his biggest highlights of the year was hitting a walk off HR on May 10th against Jaret Wright & the San Diego Padres. 

On May 13th, he hit two HRs at Colorado then another the next night as well. On May 16th he went down with injury that kept him out of the line up until August 13th. 

But in heroic fashion, in his August 13th return, he hit a two run HR in the 3rd inning off the Giants Jerome Williams. He then had two RBI singles, giving him a season high 5 RBI night in a 9-2 Mets win. On August 26th he hit a three-run 1st inning HR in Atlanta off Shane Reynolds, leading New York to a 6-5 win. He would hit another the next night, his 11th of the year, which turned out to be his last of the season.

Bob Murphy Night: On September 25th he made his debut at first base on the same night Bob Murphy did his final Mets broadcast. Piazza had two hits in the Mets 3-1 loss, as Bob Murphy was honored & said goodbye after 41 years at the Mets broadcast mic.

The Mets finished fifth in the East with a 66-95 record.

2004: On May 5, 2004, Piazza hit a dramatic walk off HR Jim Brower of the San Francisco Giants. Not only did the Mets win the game, but the HR surpassed Carlton Fisk for most home runs all time by a catcher #352.

The Mets honored Piazza on June 18, 2004, with “Mike Piazza Night” in an interleague game
against the Detroit Tigers. 

centerfieldmaz was lucky to attend the game and see some of the all-time great catchers who came out to honor Piazza. 

Guests included Yogi Berra, Tommy Lasorda, Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench; Gary Carter, Lance Parrish & Ivan Pudge Rodriguez. That night in front of 37,000 fans Piazza came to bat to a standing ovation & singled in his first at bat with one of his two hits. The Mets won the game on Mike Cameron's walk off HR.

On an early June home stand against the Florida Marlins, Piazza had a two HR night on June 5th & then came back the next day to hit another HR driving in four runs in the Mets 5-2 victory. Piazza kept his average up over .300 into mid July where he slumped & battled injuries. 

2004 All Star Game: In the 2004 All Star Game held in Houston, Piazza was the starting catcher once again representing the Mets for the sixth time.

His nemisis Roger Clemens now a Houston Astro & was the staring NL& Piazza played nice in the national spotlight. But Clemens would get rocked & give up six runs in the 1st inning, including HRs to Manny Ramirez & Alfonso Soriano. Rumors later spread that Piazza told the American League batters what pitches Clemens was throwing. Piazza went 0-2 at the plate in the AL's 9-4 win.

In August Piazza missed a lot of action due to an injury. In September he only hit two HRs and did have a four-game stretch where he drove in at least one run. 

He finished the year with 20 HRs 21 doubles 54 RBIs 81 hits 68 walks a .362 on base % while batting .266. Piazza caught 50 games behind the plate & played in 68 games at first base. He made eight errors at first posting a .985 fielding % helping complete 44 double plays.

In the 2004-2005 off season Piazza married Playboy Playmate Alicia Rickter in Miami Florida. Guests included John Franco, Al Leiter, Eric Karros, Ivan Rodriguez & Eddie Trunk.

2005: Piazza played his last season in New York in 2005; it was a new era as Willie Randolph took over as a manager. In the off season the Mets added Pedro Martinez & Carlos Beltran. The Mets improved & would finish third but win 83 games & finish with a winning record for the first time in three years since 2001.

Piazza was back as the team’s main catcher, seeing action in 101 games behind the plate. 

On Opening Day, he hit a double in the 7-6 Mets loss. On April 8th he hit his first HR of the season, coming in a loss at Atlanta. On April 15th, Aaron Heilman had a rare day where he threw a complete game shutout against the Florida Marlins. Piazza had two hits & drove in three of the Mets four runs in the 4-0 win.

The next day his 8th inning ground rule double put the Mets ahead 3-2. But Bradon Looper blew the save & got bailed out on Ramon Castro's walk off hit.

On April 24th he had another three RBI Day, this in a 11-4 loss to the Nationals. On May 5th Piazza hit a three run HR off Tim Worrell in a 7-5 win over the Phillies at Shea. The next day in Milwaukee he hit a pair of HRs with three RBIs in a 7-4 win. On May 9th he hit his 6th HR of the year & had a four RBI day in a 7-4 win at Wrigley Field.

On June 1st, his 8th inning double off Lance Cormier brought in Cliff Floyd in what turned out to be the game winning run over the Diamondbacks. On June 16th he homered in a 6-1 win against the A's in Oakland. That month he also hit HRs in two games against the Phillies.

2005 All Star Game: Pizza made his sixth & final Mets All Star appearance in the 2005 All Star Game held at Comercia Park in Detroit. He went 0-2 in the A.L.'s 7-4 win.

In July he had three games where he hit HRs & drove in three runs each time, just like the young Piazza had so often done. On July 14th his three run, 8th inning HR off Blaine Boyer was the game winning run breaking a 3-3 tie over the Braves. The HR was his tenth of the year. On July 20th he hit a two-run shot off the Padres' Woody Williams & had an RBI double in the 7-3 Mets win at Shea. 

On July 24th, Kris Benson shut out the Dodgers for eight innings, Piazza drove in three in the 6-0 Mets win, highlighted by a two run HR off Brad Penny.

On August 2nd he walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning getting credit with
a game winning RBI. The next day at Shea Piazza hit a HR against the Milwaukee Brewers. It took him three weeks to drive in another run, that day he had three RBIs in a 6-1 win at Miami.

 The following day he hit another HR gathering up three hits while driving in five runs on the day. On August 16th he suffered an injury which would shut him down for the next month. 

In September he had his last multiple Mets HR game, it came in the first game of a double header with the Washington Nationals in D.C. That night he homered in the second inning & then again in the fourth inning, as he drove in three runs. 

In the first game of a double header on September 29th he & David Wright hit back-to-back HRs in an 11-0 win over the Colorado Rockies. 
It would be the last HR Piazza would hit in a Mets uniform. 

On the last day of the season, he received an emotional send off from the Shea Faithful shedding a tear as he waved to the standing ovation.

Overall, in 2005, he played in 113 games hitting 19 HRs with 100 hits 23 doubles 62 RBIs batting .251 posting a .326 on base %.

Behind the plate he posted a .997 fielding % (4th in the NL) making only two errors all year. 
the downside he only threw out 14% of would-be base stealers.

In the off season he was let go to free agency & the Mike Piazza Mets era had ended. He would sign on with the San Diego Padres.

Mets Career: In his eight-year Mets career, Piazza played 972 games (12th on the Mets all time list) with 1028 hits (8th on the Mets all-time list) 193 doubles (8th on the Mets all-time list) 2 triples 220 HRs (3rd on the Mets all-time list) 655 RBIs (3rd on the Mets all-time list) 532 runs scored (10th on the Mets all-time list) 22 sac flies, a .373 on base % & a .915 OPS.

Defensively He is second to Jerry Grote in games caught behind the plate with 826.

Honors: Piazza was at the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2009. He & Tom Seaver were the last two Mets to walk off the field & say goodbye to Shea. The two returned to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field in 2009.

Piazza threw out the first pitch in Game #3 of the 2015 World Series, the first World Series game held at Citi Field.

Hall Of Fame: Mike Piazza was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2013. His uniform #31 was retired by the Mets in 2016.

In 2016 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

He is also a member of the Italian American Hallof Fame in Chicago.

Family: Mike & his wife Alicia have three children, two girls & a boy.


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