Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
There are so many Mike Piazza moments to consider, from his home run against Trevor Hoffman in 1999 to his uplifting moment on Sept. 21, 2011; from his battles with Roger Clemens to the eight-run rally against the Braves; from the pitch he took to clinch a playoff birth to his ever-changing, iconic and weird beard.
For me, though, I always go back to the moment he was acquired.
My mom called me at Home Depot, where I was working as a cashier at the time, to tell me the Mets traded for some guy named “Pizza.” I was too stunned to laugh, knowing exactly who she was referring to.
The team was at a pivotal point, slightly above .500, in second place, and looking strong enough to float, but too weak to hang in a pennant race. It’s where the Mets were in a similar place when they acquired Gary Carter, and a place I hope they return to in the next couple of years. Like Carter, Piazza instantly changed the team dynamic and he made them seem legit and possible.
It was such a big deal, I didn’t believe the trade happened until I actually saw him in uniform May 23, 1998. It was a gorgeous Memorial Day, with crisp blue skies and nearly 35,000 fans standing in a ballpark that had grown comfortable with silence. Piazza had only an RBI double that day. However, his presence alone, his slow walk to the plate, perked up fans, gave us strength and made the Mets look and feel like contenders again.
I hope to feel that way again some day…