Ten days after the world stopped and cried for New York, Mike Piazza made history with a swing of the bat that gave the city hope once again.
The September 21, 2001 homerun Piazza hit was late in the first professional sports game since the September 11 attacks, and gave the Mets the lead in front of thousands of fans, many of whom were first responders.
A power hitter who revived the fan base in the late 1990s and 2000s, Piazza was etched into the baseball history books because of this moment.
But will he have to wait before his plaque makes it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Piazza did not receive enough votes to make it in to Cooperstown, nor did any other candidate — the first time since 1996 that writers failed to vote someone in.
The 12-time All Star catcher played in the Steroid Era of baseball and was on the same ballot as alleged steroid users Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa. Piazza was never directly linked to using steroids, but many baseball critics were concerned his just playing during the tainted era would hurt his chances.
Piazza batted .296 and hit 220 homeruns in orange and blue between May 1998 to September 2005. He hit his 352nd career dinger in 2004 to surpass Carlton Fisk as the alltime homerun hitter for catchers. If he does make it to the Hall of Fame, Piazza has said he wants to be remembered as a Met and not a Los Angeles Dodger, where he started his career.
Paul LoDuca, who took over as catcher after Piazza left Flushing at the end of 2005, tweeted disappointment that baseball writers hadn’t voted in his colleague.
“Once again: Tell the Voters to strap on the gear for 9 innings and put the numbers up Mike Piazza did,” LoDuca tweeted. “I don’t care if he used rocket fuel.”
LoDuca, who admitted to taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) during his career, followed up later by saying an entire generation of baseball should not be scolded for the mistakes of some.
“I took PEDs and I’m not proud of it,” he wrote. “But people that think you can take a shot or a pill and play like the legends on that ballot need help.”
David Adler of Bay Terrace, a 50-year Met fan, was disappointed Piazza did not get enough votes this year, and credited it to accused steriod users taking away votes.
“He [Piazza] should have gotten in,” he said. “A lot of votes went to players using performance enhancing drugs and that, I feel, took votes away for him.”
Adelr and other fans are sure Piazza will one day make it into Cooperstown with an interlocking “NY” on his cap.
“He went to the World Series with the Mets, not as a Dodger,” Adelr said. “You would think that that would count for something.”
— With additional reporting by Anthony O’Reilly
- The 7 Line calendar heats up Mets offseason
- R.A. Dickey wins NL Cy Young Award
- Clothing line lets fans express frustration with NHL lockout