Mike Piazza: New York Mets Hall of Famer (Part Two)

By 2006 the Mets were going in a new direction. Piazza was past his prime and he was no longer in their plans. He was never pursued as a free agent by the Mets and signed on with the San Diego Padres. He had a respectful year batting .283 with 22 HRs and 68 RBIs.

On April 20th the Mets came to town in San Diego & Piazza faced off against his old team going hitless in the first two games. In the third game he got two hits including a third inning lead off HR off Pedro Martinez. 

In his triumphant return to Shea Stadium on August 8th Piazza received a tremendous ovation from the Shea crowd. In his first at bat he struck out against Steve Trachsel& then later got a base hit in his next at bat.

The next day he hit two HRs both solo shots coming off Pedro Martinez in the Mets 4-3 win over the Padres. At season’s end he was released by the Padres and signed on for one final year in Oakland with the Athletics.

In 83 games at Oakland he was mostly used as a DH, batting .275 with 8 HRs 17 doubles & 44 RBIs.

Piazza played in 12 All Star games being elected to 12 all star teams being the top vote getter three times. He has won ten Silver Slugger Awards. In his career Piazza was the one of the greatest hitting catchers in MLB history. He holds the all time record of 396 HRs while playing in the catcher’s position.

Piazza won the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year Award, made 12 All Star teams & won ten Silver Slugger Awards. He won 12 Player of the Week Awards & four Player of the Month Awards & was the 1996 All Star Game MVP.

Overall in his career he batted .308 (117th all time) with 2127 hits (21st all time). He has 427 HRs (50th all time) & a .545 slugging % (29th All Time). He averaged a HR in every 16.2 at bats which is 34th best all time.

He hit 344 doubles, with 8 triples & 779 extra base hits (130th all time).

He drew 759 walks, with 149 intentional walks (57th all time) posting a .377 on base % (203rd all time).

 Piazza drove in 1335 runs (95th all time). He played in 1912 games, struck out 1113 times (214th all time) & grounded into 229 plays (55th all time).

Behind the plate he caught 1620 games (22nd most all time) posting a .989 fielding %. He has made 10,844 putouts (12th most all time) with 733 assists (93rd all time) throwing out 23% of runners attempting to steal. He caught 423 runners stealing (94th best all time) while allowing 1400 stolen bases (7th all time). He turned 88 double plays (75th all time). 

Mets Career: In Mets history he is among the top in many offensive categories. He has played in 972 Mets games (12th all time) & is second to Jerry Grotes in games at catcher (826). He has a .296 life time Mets batting average (4th best in Mets History).

He is first in slugging % (.542 %) third in HRs (220) third in RBIs (655) & fifth in on base % (.373 %) & total bases (1855).

Piazza is 8th in doubles (193)& has 532 runs scored (10th on Mets all time list ). He drew 424 walks (11th all time) with 3478 at bats (11th all time).

He is one of only three Mets to ever hit three grand slams in a season. 

Honors: In the 2006 Hometown Heroes voting, in which 5 of the greatest players in the team’s history were awarded, Piazza was nominated for the Mets hero along with John Franco, Tug McGraw, Tom Seaver, and Keith Hernandez.

Piazza was at the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008 and caught the ceremonial last pitch there thrown from Tom Seaver. The two exited together to the great Beatles song “ In My Life” walking through the Shea gates for the last time.

In 2009 he returned to catch the ceremonial first pitch from Tom Seaver at the Mets new home at Citi Field. 

In 2010 he was coaching pro baseball in Italy & in 2011 was manager of the United States Futures Games team. He operates Mike Piazza Honda dealership in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.                         

Family: On January 29, 2005, he married Playboy Playmate Alicia Rickter in Miami, Florida. Guests included Eric Karros, Brande Roderick, Lisa Dergan, Anjelica Bridges, Al Leiter & Iván Rodríguez. Billy Ray Cyrus was their wedding singer.

On February 5, 2007, Piazza's wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter. Nicoletta Veronica Piazza, in New York City.

Trivia: He is known to be a fan of heavy metal music and is featured on the CD Stronger than Death by Black Label Society. He is also godfather to former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde's son, Hendrix.

Piazza also appeared on the Radio Show, Metal shop with Q 104s Eddie Trunk. During the 1994 baseball strike, Piazza and Joe Morgan appeared on Married... with Children.

He also did cameos in episodes of Baywatch, Celebrity Jeopardy!, The Apprentice and the 2002 Sandra Bullock movie, "Two Weeks Notice".

In 1998, "Mike Piazza's Strike Zone" was released for the Nintendo 64 system.

Hall of Fame: Mike Piazza was denied entrance to the Hall of Fame in 2013 in an embarrassing move by MLB, in a year no position players of the modern era where inducted.

The Hall Committee believed that most players of the past era, all took steroids & denied inductions to all players of that era. Somehow through all this drama, the winningest team in the steroid era, who also play in New York, get a free pass. Even though many players have been proven guilty on their championship steroid era teams. 

Steroids is something MLB closed it's eyes too, at a time they were pulling in lots of money with HR hitters who were in the lime light.

Piazza denied ever using steroids but did admit to using androstenedione before it was phased out & made illegal.

In 2013 he released his autobiography "Long Shot" which made the NY Times best sellers list.

During the 2013 All Star festivities at Citi Field, he led his team to victory with a two run HR.

Piazza caught the game as battery mate to softball star; Jenny Finch. Teammates included wounded vet Josh Wege, The King of Queens; Kevin James, Doc Gooden, Daryl Strawberry, Andre Dawson & Alyssa Milano.

He threw out a ceromonial first pitch at the 2015 World Series at Citi Field.

In 2016 he purchased a minority ownership on A.C. Reggiana Soccer club in Reggio Emilia Italia. Piazza has also coached team Italia in the World Baseball Classic.

In January of 2016 Mike Piazza was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, NY.


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