ESPYS Interview Series: Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza talks about his ESPYS Award and what it was like playing in New York. AP Photo/Lou Requena

In his first season in the big leagues, Mike Piazza was MLB Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. A year later he took home the Best Breakthrough Athlete Award at the 1994 ESPYS.

His early success is well-noted among baseball fans, but one of his most celebrated accomplishments came in 2001. The New York Mets hosted the first post-9/11 professional sporting event in the city, just 10 days after the terrorist attacks. Piazza hit a two-run home run that sealed the Mets' victory over Atlanta, giving New York fans something to cheer for.

What is your most memorable moment from the ESPYS?

The most memorable moment was getting my Best Breakthrough Athlete Award in '94. At the time it was only my second year in the league, so it was overwhelming. It was a lot of fun.

Do you have your trophy displayed somewhere?

I do, that's funny, and I'm looking at it right now in my office at home. I know they've changed them a bit, but this one looks like the Statue of Liberty. As an athlete, it's sort of like winning an Oscar. It's pretty cool.

Who were some of your favorite players growing up?

Well, I grew up in Philadelphia, and they had the great Philadelphia teams of the '70s. Mike Schmidt was my favorite player, I idolized him. Larry Bowa, Dave Cash, Bob Boone, Steve Carlton, Garry Maddox -- the Phillies had a really good ball club. I think they won the division in '76, '77 and '78, and eventually won the World Series in '80, beating the Royals.

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