NEW YORK (WFAN) — Legendary Mets catcher Mike Piazza joined WFAN host Mike Francesa on Thursday afternoon in the wake of the release of Piazza’s book, “Long Shot.”
Arguably the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived, the 12-time All-Star discussed his knack for hitting clutch home runs, his thoughts on steroid usage, his reflection on his time in Queens and rumors about his sexual orientation.
Drafted in the 62nd round of the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft, Piazza was never expected to be a star, let alone a future Hall of Famer.
He felt compelled to tell his story and share his experiences with the world.
“I was talking with (agent) Dan Lozano a few years ago and he said, you know, ‘You’ve just had a very interesting life, an amazing career,'” Piazza told Francesa. “And he said, ‘A guy like you has to write a book.’ Obviously starting with the Dodgers and then getting traded and coming to New York, it’s just been an amazing story of hurdles and mountains and setbacks and frustrations and elations. I kind of wanted to share it with everybody, I really did.”
Piazza was traded to the Amazin’s in 1998 and quickly became one of the most beloved — and productive — Mets of all time. He led the club to the National League Championship Series in 1999 and the memorable World Series against the Yankees in 2000.
There were many epic moments that personified Piazza’s sensational tenure with the Mets, but nothing gave fans chills like the catcher’s go-ahead home run against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001.
Just 10 days following the September 11 terrorist attacks, New Yorkers needed something to smile about in the worst way.
Piazza rose to the occasion and brought some much-needed joy to the people of New York City on an emotional evening.
“Where do I start with that week?” Piazza said. “The fact that people still come up to me and remember that and talk about it is something that, for me, is very touching. That week was just something … It fundamentally changed my life. Because after that point, I refocused on the most important things in life, and that’s family, God, love, relationships, friendships.
“For me, it was a surreal night. I just remember, definitively, praying at that time, saying ‘Lord, please help me get through this night. Please help me be professional and get through this night.'”
Piazza has repeatedly denied rumors that he used steroids, and many believe that his association with performance-enhancing drugs — although he’s never failed a test — is what kept him from being voted into the Hall of Fame. Because he was a power hitter who played in the “Steroid Era,” he’s been the victim of suspicions for years.
“My denials in the book have been documented all the way back, I believe, to 1997,” Piazza said. “I just don’t understand what part of ‘no’ people don’t understand. I guess it’s just something that, unfortunately, is a black mark on the game. And I hate the fact that it happened in the game because I’ll always love the game. It’s given me everything … We should have dealt with it sooner … We have to live with those consequences.”
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