One of the most decorated players in the history of the New York Mets is catcher Mike Piazza. Piazza, who was just inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame this past Sunday, could end up in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as next July. Piazza was one of the game's most prolific offensive catchers, and his massive home runs and clutch hits earned the respect of fans throughout the country. Piazza was named to 12 All Star teams throughout his career, seven of which came while he was wearing a Mets uniform. Let's take a little trip down All Star Memories Lane and take a look at some of Mike Piazza's All Star moments.
1998: Mike Piazza was named to his sixth career All Star team in 1998, shortly after joining his third team of the season, the Mets. Piazza was the starting catcher for the National League in the contest, which was played at Colorado's Coors Field. Piazza batted sixth for the NL and went 1 for 3 in the 13-8 defeat. Piazza's 1998 campaign was terrific as he hit .328 with 32 home runs and 111 RBI's while the Mets fell just short of making the playoffs.
1999: After re-signing with New York in the offseason, Piazza had another strong season in 1999. Piazza was selected to his seventh consecutive All Star Game and represented the National League in the Midsummer Classic, held at Boston's Fenway Park. Piazza hit seventh and went 1 for 2 in the NL's 4-1 loss. Piazza was strong once again for the Mets in 1999, hitting .303 and tying his career highs in home runs (40) and RBI's (124) to help get the Mets back into the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Piazza was also a clutch performer in the postseason before the Mets fell to the Atlanta Braves in six games in the National League Championship Series.
2000: Piazza was elected to his eighth consecutive All Star Game in 2000, but could not participate in the game after being hit in the head by Roger Clemens right before the All Star Break. Piazza was forced to miss the game for the first time since 1992, but he had tremendous on the field success once again. Piazza hit .324 with 38 home runs and 113 RBI's to finish third in the MVP balloting. Piazza helped guide the Mets to the World Series, where they would lose to Clemens and the New York Yankees in five games.
2001: The Mets slumped in 2001, but that was not due to a poor effort from Piazza. Piazza made his ninth consecutive All Star team after being elected by the fans to be the National League's starting catcher. Piazza hit sixth and went hitless in two at bats in a game the National League would go on to lose 4-1. The game at Seattle's Safeco Field would prove to be memorable for other reasons, when the retiring Cal Ripken hit a home run and won the All Star Game MVP. Piazza finished 2001 with a .300 batting average and hit 36 home runs and 94 RBI's, marking the first time in six years he had failed to drive in 100 runs.
2002: Now 33, Piazza's age was beginning to catch up to him. Piazza was elected to his tenth consecutive All Star team by the fans and was the starting catcher for the National League once again in a contest played at Milwaukee's Miller Park. Piazza hit sixth for the NL and went 0 for 2 but picked up an RBI on a groundout. The game would be known as the infamous tie game, when both sides ran out of players and forced Major League Baseball to introduce home field advantage to the All Star Game in the following season. Piazza finished the season with a .280 average and hit 33 home runs while driving in 98 runs. Piazza finished the season with a sub .300 batting average for the first time since 1992.
2004: A severe hamstring injury cut Piazza's 2003 season short and ended his consecutive All Star Games streak at 10, but Piazza bounced back in 2004 at age 35 to earn his 11th All Star Selection. Piazza, ever the fan favorite, was voted in by the fans to be the NL's starting catcher for the 2004 Midsummer Classic, played at Houston's Minute Maid Park. Piazza was forced to catch his old nemesis, Clemens, in the contest after the Houston hurler was named the starting pitcher. Clemens got shelled in his one inning of work while Piazza went 0 for 2 at the plate in a 9-4 American League victory. Piazza finished with a .266 batting average and hit 20 home runs along with 54 RBI's, his worst full season numbers of his caeer.
2005: With Piazza's contract set to expire at the end of the season, the writing was on the wall for the 36 year old backstop. Piazza was elected to his 12th and final All Star game by the fans and started behind the plate for the National League. Piazza hit seventh and went 0 for 2 in the contest, which was played at Detroit's Comerica Park. The National League went on to lose 7-5, ending Piazza's tenure as an All Star on a sour note. Piazza finished the season hitting .251 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI's, and was showered with love in his final home game as a Met by the fans.
Piazza departed New York after eight years and spent a season each with San Diego and Oakland before retiring after the 2007 season. Piazza has stayed away from the limelight after his retirement, only recently releasing his autobiography entitled "Long Shot". Piazza was not elected to the Hall of Fame in his first time on the ballot, receiving 57.8 percent of the required 75 percent vote. Piazza will be eligible for the Hall of Fame induction again this season, with the results being announced in January.
Check back next week for another edition of Mets 101's All Star Memories!
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