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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday …Mike Piazza

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The Most popular Met in History is Tom Seaver , Mike Piazza is second a very close second maybe even first if you were not old enough to see Seaver. That’s how good Mike Piazza was. Seaver was an Met who came up through the Met farm system, Piazza was acquired in a trade from the then Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins)who got Piazza in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers. If any one had any doubt that Piazza was going to fit in New York …Trust me I wasn’t among the doubters. He was made for the big stage and New York was as big of a stage as there was.

A 12-time All-Star, Piazza has been described as the best offensive catcher of all time, and holds the record for home runs hit by a catcher (396), with a career total of 427.Piazza has a career slash line of .308/.377/.545, for a wRC+ of 140; and started 1606 games at catcher. He had at least one RBI in 15 consecutive games for the New York Mets in 2000, the second-longest RBI streak ever (Ray Grimes of the Chicago Cubs had 17 consecutive games.)

Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes one of it’s all time favorite players …One of the greatest hitting catchers of all time …Mike Piazza.

Career highlights and milestones

  • In 1993, Piazza hit 35 home runs, the most by any rookie catcher, eclipsing Matt Nokes‘ 32 home runs for Detroit in 1987. Additionally, Piazza’s 35 home runs is the most home runs by any Dodger rookie.
  • He won the 1994 ESPY Award for Breakthrough Athlete
  • He was named the All-Star Game’s MVP, in 1996, after he went 2-3 with a double, home run and two RBI at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, near his home town of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
  • His 40 homers in 1997 and 1999 are the third most by a catcher. Todd Hundley is second, with 41 homers in 1996, Javy López is first, with 42 in 2003, and Johnny Bench had 45 in 1970, although only 38 home runs were hit while catching.
  • His .362 average in 1997 was the highest ever by a catcher in the National League, tying the Major League record set by Bill Dickey, who also batted .362 for the New York Yankees in 1936. This record was broken by Joe Mauer who hit .365 in 2009.
  • He won the Ted Williams Award, presented by CNN/SI and Total Baseball in 1997.
  • His 201 hits in 1997 were the most in major league history by a player used as a catcher in 130 or more games
  • On September 21, 1997, Mike Piazza became just the third player and the only Dodger ever to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium with a blast over the left-field pavilion.
  • He hit the longest home run in Astrodome history, an estimated 480-foot, two-run blast off José Lima in the first inning of a game on September 14, 1998.
  • Led the majors with four grand slams in 1998. His fourth slam and first as a Met came against the DiamondbacksAndy Benes in the second inning of the August 22 game at Shea Stadium.
  • Hit his 200th home run on September 16, 1998, at Houston. The home run, a three-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning against Billy Wagner, gave the Mets a 3-2 lead in a game they would win, 4-3, in 11 innings.
  • Tied a Mets club record on July 18, 2000 when he hit his third grand slam of the season. The only other Mets with three grand slams in a year are John Milner in 1976, Robin Ventura in 1999 and Carlos Beltrán in 2006.
  • His 72 RBI prior to the All-Star Break in 2000 were, at the time, the most in club history. Dave Kingman had 69 in 1976.
  • Piazza, Derek Jeter, and Bernie Williams are the only players in major league history to hit a World Series home run in both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.
  • He won a record 10 consecutive Louisville Silver Slugger Awards. The award is given annually to the best offensive player at each position in each league.
  • He joined Cincinnati’s Johnny Bench (1968), New York YankeesThurman Munson (1970), Atlanta’s Earl Williams (1971), Boston’s Carlton Fisk (1972), San Diego’s Benito Santiago (1987) and Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar, Jr. (1990) as the only catchers to be named Rookie of the Year. Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto would also be bestowed with this honor following his stellar 2008 season, along with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey after the 2010 season.
  • He finished second in the NL Most Valuable Player voting behind San Diego’s Ken Caminiti after batting .336 with 36 home runs, 105 RBI, 87 runs and 16 doubles in 148 games in 1996. (Caminiti later admitted to taking steroids during his MVP Award-winning season.)
  • He led the All-Star voting in 1996, 1997, and 2000.
  • He hit more than 30 home runs in eight consecutive seasons (1995–2002). He has nine career 30-homer seasons.
  • He hit .300 in nine consecutive seasons, dating from 1993 to 2001.
  • Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench were on hand at Shea Stadium to honor Piazza on “Mike Piazza Night” on June 18, 2004. Piazza was celebrated for breaking the record for career home runs by a catcher.
  • He hit his 400th career home run on April 26, 2006, off the Arizona Diamondbacks’ José Valverde.
  • He hit a double off of the San Francisco Giants’ Matt Cain for his 2,000th career hit on July 21, 2006.
  • Hit three home runs against the Colorado Rockies on June 29, 1996
  • Mike currently serves as the hitting coach for the Italian baseball club in the World Baseball Classic and in the 2009 World Cup.
  • On September 21, 2001, ten days after the terrorist attacks of September 11 Mike Piazza hit a home run in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead over the Braves.
MLB debut
September 1, 1992 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 2007 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average .308
Home runs 427
Runs batted in 1,335
Teams
Career highlights and awards

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1 Comment

  1. bklynboy59 says:

    Reblogged this on smallthoughtsinasportsworld and commented:

    In light of his recent induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday is very happy to repost Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday…Mike Piazza. Congratulations Mike Piazza for your Hall Of Fame induction.

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