In a report for Newsday, Mark Hermann chatted with Al Leiter, John Franco and former Mets GM Steve Phillips about their time with Mike Piazza during their Mets careers.
“We got our rock star,” Leiter explained to Hermann. “I was on the phone with John Franco and some of the other guys and we were like 12-year-olds, going, ‘We got Mike Piazza!’ ”
Leiter recalled the difference in opinion between then co-owner Nelson Doubleday and now Mets Principal Owner Fred Wilpon about the need to acquire Piazza.
“I remember that Fred Wilpon went on Mike and the Mad Dog and said ‘We’re fine, we don’t need a catcher.’ Then Nelson Doubleday went on a few days later and said the opposite,” Leiter recalled.
Meanwhile, Franco – who was inducted into the team’s hall of fame last year – is hopeful Piazza will one day be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame someday.
“It’s a great honor, and well deserved,” Franco said. “It is a step toward the day he goes into Cooperstown.”
Franco said it was an easy decision to surrender his number 31 jersey to Piazza when he arrived in May, 1998.
“I knew that’s what he wore all those years with the Dodgers and I knew he would appreciate it,” Franco explained.
Former Mets GM Steve Phillips said Piazza was an easy player to deal with, as he didn’t have to worry about Piazza getting into trouble.
“Here he was, a megastar, and he was incredibly low maintenance. He had no entourage,” Phillips explained. “His dad and brother would be with him, and the prettiest girl, but that was it. And after the game, he would have a protein bar and a Powerade. I never had to worry about that 3 a.m. phone call. It was an honor to be part of his time here.”
Piazza hit .296 with 220 home runs and 655 RBI as a Met between 1998-2005.
Read more: Newsday