Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Mets [Print without images]

Sunday, July 14, 2013
Piazza: Mets Hall of Fame a good fit

By Mike Mazzeo

NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza says he is honored to be inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame.

“I’ve said all along, the Mets have always had some very colorful and outstanding ballplayers in their history, and to be in that group is really great for me,” said Piazza, who will be honored on Sept. 29 at Citi Field.

Piazza hit 220 of his 427 career home runs with the Mets, and ranks second on the franchise’s all-time home run list. He ranks first in team history in slugging percentage (.542) and is third in RBIs (655). Piazza went to seven All-Star games as a member of the Mets.

Mike Piazza
The Mets' new Hall of Famer participated in Sunday's celebrity softball game at Citi Field.
“Mike Piazza reinvigorated our franchise when we acquired him in May, 1998,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. “Mike is one of the greatest players in our history and we are thrilled to induct him into the Mets Hall of Fame.”

Said Piazza of his tenure with the Mets: “It was without a doubt the most exciting time of my life. You can’t describe the energy of playing in New York City, and being here when we had some pretty good ballclubs and made the playoffs a few times, it’s just something you can’t describe.

“The fans here have always been very special to me and I’ve had a tremendous amount of support since the day I got here. It’s something I’m very much looking forward to [getting inducted].”

Piazza never won a World Series as a Met -- coming up short in the Subway Series in 2000 -- but his home run in the first game in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks will never be forgotten.

“It’ll always be a part of me -- you never forget -- and when I think about it now I still get emotional because it was a very difficult time for the city,” Piazza said.

Despite the Mets’ recent struggles, Piazza is optimistic about the franchise’s future.

“It seems like this team is slowly but surely rebuilding and getting back to what the roots are, and that’s obviously pitching and defense, because when this field first opened, it wasn’t always defined as a hitter’s ballpark, so the way this organization is progressing it’s cause for optimism for the fans,” Piazza said.

“Obviously, there’s a ways to go and there’s some pieces that need to be added. I played for (Mets GM) Sandy (Alderson) in San Diego in 2006, and I always thought of him as a very excellent baseball guy who knows talent. But again, sometimes you have to take a few steps back to take a step forward, and that’s what the Mets have done throughout their history. Now, it’s about development and drafting and getting guys healthy, so it’s fun to watch. I’m optimistic that this team is going in the right direction.”

Piazza spoke highly of ace Matt Harvey.

“I have to say he’s got great stuff, and he’s going to continue to mature, and part of it is handling the tough times as well,” Piazza said. “I think when he has a few setbacks that’s going to test his character a little bit and help him. The biggest thing is to stay healthy. I think with any young pitcher, it’s just keep your mechanics strong and learn from the masters like Tom Seaver, pitchers in the past that have great mechanics and didn’t get out of whack and suffer those arm injuries.”

Piazza said it would’ve been fun to catch Harvey.

“Definitely. It makes your job easier. I wouldn’t want to hit off him, though.”

Piazza, who holds the MLB record for home runs hit by a catcher, fell short in the Hall of Fame balloting in January, receiving 57.8 percent of the vote; he needed 75 percent of the vote to get elected.

Asked if he feels unfairly tainted by speculation that he used PEDs, Piazza said, “No. I’ve said before I think the process with what it is I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support. I think part of it is as a player and a person sometimes you just have to respect processes and understand that this is the way it’s always been done.

“And as I’ve said many times before, there’s been some great players in history that have had to wait their turn. I’m proud of my career. I’d put my body of work up against anybody. It’s something obviously that was such a huge part of my life, and I’m proud of it and I just love the game and respect the game and everything else is out of my hands.

“There’s nothing you can do about that. You just tell your story and live your life.”