It’s quite the weekend for Hall of Fame Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and his now Hall of Fame godson, Mike Piazza.
After being inducted into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown last Sunday, Piazza will have his number retired by the Mets before Saturday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.
On Friday, Lasorda was presented with an honorary collection at Yaphank’s Baseball Heaven, which includes baseball cards, videos, pictures, jerseys and championship clippings from his 21-year managerial career that included two World Series titles.
Lasorda wasn’t only thinking about himself Friday. He reminisced about players he coached like Eric Karros and Bobby Valentine who, joined with former Mets manager Jerry Manuel, held a panel for the National Youth Baseball Championships at Baseball Heaven before Lasorda’s presentation. And of course, Piazza.
“I’ve been seeing him getting honored all over; Cooperstown and everywhere else,” Lasorda said. “This young man, whatever he did, he accomplished because he wanted to do it and that’s the thing I try to teach other kids.”
Piazza had a career .308 batting average with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs over his 16-year major league career, including eight seasons with the Mets.
It’s well documented that the Dodgers drafted Piazza in the 62nd round as a favor to Lasorda, who was close friends with Piazza’s father.
“He worked awful hard for it,” Lasorda said. “Nobody wanted to sign him. … My guys and my people didn’t even want to sign him. They didn’t want to sign him but I made them sign him and the rest is history.”
Piazza, who has the most home runs as a catcher (396), is a 12-time All-Star – including 10 consecutive seasons from 1993 to 2002 in which he won the silver slugger as well – and ranks at or near the top of nearly every offensive record for a catcher. He won the 1993 Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers.
“Whoever thought this guy would be in the Hall of Fame? This guy was drafted in the [62nd] round,” Lasorda said. “This guy, nobody wanted him.”