Mike Piazza, one of the most iconic players to ever wear a New York Mets uniform, will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday.
Piazza, who played for the Mets from 1998 to 2005, notched a .296 batting average, 220 home runs and 655 RBIs in the blue and orange. He will be the first player to go into the Hall with a Mets cap on his plaque since pitcher Tom Seaver in 1992.
During his 16-year career, Piazza owned a .308 average, 427 homers and 1,335 RBIs in 16 career seasons, and was elected into baseball immortality during his fourth year of eligibility. Here is everything you need to know about Major League Baseball’s all-time home run leader among catchers.
How does one get elected to the Hall of Fame?
There are only 312 elected members in the Hall of Fame.
Players must receive 75 percent of the votes cast by the active and honorary members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The voters must be active baseball writers for at least 10 years to be eligible. Piazza received 83 percent of the vote.
A player must be retired for five years before being eligible for the Hall. They may remain on the ballot for up to 10 years. “Voting is based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which they played,” according to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s official website.
How did Piazza become an eventual Hall-of-Famer?
Piazza was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a 62nd-round draft pick in the 1988 MLB Draft. He was the 1,390th player picked overall. On Sept. 1, 1992, Piazza made his MLB debut at age 23. The following year, he would be crowned National League Rookie of the Year, appearing in 149 games, hitting .318, mashing 35 home runs and driving in 112 runs. Piazza would end up playing 726 games for the Dodgers.
After departing Los Angeles in 1998, the 12-time All-Star made stops with the Florida Marlins (1998, 5 games), Mets (972 games), San Diego Padres (2006, 126 games) and Oakland Athletics (2007, 83 games).
Other accolades of Piazza’s include winning 10-straight Silver Slugger Awards (1993-2002) and being awarded All-Star Game MVP in 1996.
What were Piazza’s greatest moments as a Met?
May 23, 1998: The Mets faithful welcomed their new catcher, in his Mets debut, with a standing ovation as he walked up to the plate in his first at-bat in Flushing. Piazza would later line a two-out RBI double in the fifth inning, increasing his new club’s lead to 2-0 over the Milwaukee Brewers. They would later go on to win, 3-0.
April 28, 1999: Trailing by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Mets looked for a comeback against the San Diego Padres. The Padres were winners of their last 181 regular season games when leading after eight innings (yes, their streak lasted more than an entire season) as a result of legendary closer Trevor Hoffman. The streak came to a close when Piazza sent Hoffman’s first-pitch of the at-bat into orbit with a two-run walk-off homer, giving the Mets a 4-3 victory.
Sept. 21, 2001: Possibly the most memorable Piazza moment was his game-winning two-run, eighth-inning home run against the Atlanta Braves in the Mets’ first game after the 9/11 terror attacks. Piazza rounded the bases with tears in his eyes. Amid the grieving, Piazza gave Mets fans something to cheer about at Shea Stadium.
May 5, 2004: On this day, Piazza surpassed Carlton Fisk for the most home runs by a catcher, launching his 352nd blast while playing catcher over the 371-foot marker in right-center field at the former home of the Mets, Shea Stadium.
Sept. 29, 2013: Piazza was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame.
If you cannot make it to Cooperstown, can you be apart of the festivities?
Yes, you can. Piazza’s Hall of Fame plaque will make an appearance at Citi Field from July 29-31. It will be returned to Cooperstown on Aug. 1.
The Mets also will continue their three-day tribute to their former All-Star catcher at Citi Field, with a celebration that will include the retirement of Piazza’s number “31” during a pre-game on-field ceremony before they take on the Colorado Rockies on July 30. The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m., making Piazza the only Met besides Seaver to have his number etched in Mets history. Additionally, there will be Piazza-themed giveaways on July 29 (replica jersey), July 30 (baseball card placard) and July 31 (bobblehead).