When Mike Piazza was traded to the New York Mets I was three years old. When he left the Mets, I was 10. Now, I know that even 10 is a young age to watch and fully understand sports.
But I remember Mike Piazza.
Many people of my generation born around the same time as me, recognize David Wright as the face of the Mets. And they should. Wright has been with the Mets for 11 years and he is the captain after all.
But I do remember a time before there was David Wright. When the guy you wanted at the plate in a big spot wore number 31 and not number 5.
For the longest time, the Hall of Fame was full of myths and legends. The Hank Aarons and Jackie Robinsons and Willie Mayses of the world. Those players whose feats you heard about but couldn’t understand because you weren’t there.
Now I’ve reached the point in my life where the inductees are people that I’ve seen play. Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. are all players who, though it takes effort, I can remember having seen.
But none of them have the impact that Piazza did for me. Everybody picks out their favorite player on their favorite team, either consciously or subconsciously. The first guy that I came to recognize as a good player, the face of a team and someone who brought hope and joy to fans was Mike Piazza.
There is something special to me about seeing Piazza get elected to the Hall of Fame. New York will always love Mike. We will always remember the late game dramatics and the heroism. The monstrous power and the healing power of one swing.
But beyond all that I will always have a soft spot for Mike Piazza. He was my first sports hero and this election is an honor that was 4 years overdue for the greatest offensive catcher in the history of the game and a man who was a pleasure to watch play the game of baseball.
So thumbs up and congratulations to Mike Piazza on his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now the Mets need to get with the program and retire his number 31.