I can remember it like it was yesterday, my very first trip to Shea Stadium. It was a hot Sunday afternoon in July. I was five years old and the Mets were in the middle of a heated pennant race with the rival Atlanta Braves. I was so excited to finally watch the Mets play in person. Pulling up to old Shea it was so cavernous, walking through the tunnel of the Mezzanine section I felt like I could see forever. I sat down in my seat next to my dad and along the right field line he pointed out and said, “hey Dan look, there he is!” I looked towards that way and I saw him for the first time, in all his 6’3, 215 pound glory, Mike Piazza. I had seen him on TV so many times, but this was different there he was right in front of my eyes. He was so cool, I remember thinking to myself, this guy is the man.Watching him catch and the way he went about his business really made me want to become a catcher.
Flash forward to 2004 when he belted his record setting 352nd home run as a catcher over the right center field wall at Shea. I said to myself this is our guy, and truly one of the greatest players the Mets have ever had.
Over the last four years, seeing Mike on the ballet and not getting into the Hall, really irked me. I knew the player he was and I know the whole world knew as well. Mike Piazza is a hall of famer, I kept saying it and saying it. After last year seeing him so close and just missing the cut off, I knew that it was truly just a matter of time until it happened. I was sitting with my dad on the day it was announced I knew that this fourth time would be the charm for Mike. Sure enough it was. I have to admit a few tears dripped from my face. Now and forever he would be known as Hall Of Famer Mike Piazza of the New York Mets. That’s the title that Mets fans have been waiting to hear for a long time. Even though Mike wasn’t a “home grown” Met, in his eight seasons with the Mets he brought so much joy and excitement to this fan base that it’s absolutely fitting Mike Piazza’s cap on his plaque in Cooperstown has a New York NY. Mike Piazza came up as a Los Angeles Dodger but was defined by his career in Queens.
Seeing him go up to the podium on Sunday, once again brought back memories and joy of when I first saw him play at Shea Stadium sixteen years ago. Congratulations Mike!