This article, written by Joe Lemire, appears on USA Today.
Mike Piazza ’embraced in NYC,’ chooses Mets for Hall of Fame cap
NEW YORK — On the night Mike Piazza signed the richest contract in baseball history, for seven years and $91 million with the Mets in Oct. 1998, he didn’t sleep a wink, wondering, “What did I just do?”
The catcher had committed most of his 30s to a franchise that hadn’t reached the postseason in a decade. By the end of the pact, however, the Mets had won a National League pennant while Piazza had burnished his Hall of Fame bonafides and had established a lifelong connection with New York City.
After his election to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Piazza returned to the city with which he is inextricably linked and announced that his plaque in Cooperstown would bear a Mets cap.
“I feel like the fans here truly brought me into their family,” Piazza said.
The 1,028 hits, 220 home runs and six All-Star appearances while playing in Queens are worthy of celebration on their own merits, but Piazza delivered a transcendent sporting moment in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The first sporting event New York hosted after 9/11 was a Mets home game on Sept. 21 in which Piazza crushed a come-from-behind, game-winning home run in the eighth inning to beat the Braves 3-2.
“It changed all of our lives, not on a baseball level but a personal level,” he reflected Thursday. “My life perspective and focus were different. To be at the right place and the right time and come through, I can only think it comes from above.” Read more at USA Today.