Updated Jan. 7, 9:45 a.m.
On his fourth attempt at reaching Cooperstown, former Mets catcher Mike Piazza was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday by the Baseball Writers of America (BBWAA).
Regarded as perhaps the best hitting catcher of all time, Piazza hit 427 home runs over his 14-season career while playing for the Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics. Of that total, 396 of them were hit while playing catcher, the most by anyone at that position. He had a lifetime .308 batting average and a .545 slugging percentage, and made 12 National League All-Star teams.
Originally drafted by the Dodgers, Piazza debuted with them in September 1992 and won Rookie of the Year the following season. The Dodgers shocked the baseball world in May 1998, however, when they traded Piazza in a blockbuster deal to the Florida Marlins, which — a season after winning the World Series — were dismantling their club amid financial turmoil.
One week after arriving in Miami, the Marlins flipped Piazza to the Mets, bolstering a light-hitting club looking to contend for a playoff spot and reigniting a suffering fan base. Piazza helped lead the Mets to the National League wild card in 1999 and the National League pennant the following year; to this point, it’s the only time that the Mets made the postseason in back-to-back years.
During his eight seasons in Queens, Piazza endeared himself to Mets fans everywhere with clutch hitting and towering home runs that soared out of Shea Stadium. The most memorable of these occurred on Sept. 21, 2001, during the Mets first home game following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in which Piazza’s two-run shot to center field helped deliver the team a 3-2 victory — and gave the fans something to cheer about amid a painful time.
The Mets and Piazza parted ways after his contract expired at the end of the 2005 season. Following his retirement after the 2007 season, he reconnected with the club, participating in both the closing ceremony at Shea Stadium in 2008 and the opening of Citi Field the following year. On both occasions, Piazza caught ceremonial pitches thrown by Tom Seaver, currently the only Mets player inducted as such in the Hall of Fame.
Though there has been some debate as to what cap he would wear to Cooperstown, Piazza previously stated he wanted to join the Hall of Fame as a Met.
“We are really thrilled that Mike Piazza has taken his rightful place among the other greats in Cooperstown,” Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement Wednesday night. “Mike’s offensive prowess, ability to deliver in the clutch, and tireless work ethic helped him become one of the great catchers of all-time. On behalf of Mets Ownership, front office staff and our fans, we congratulate Mike, his wife Alicia, his parents, Vince and Veronica, and the entire Piazza family.”
Piazza first made the Hall of Fame ballot in 2012, but failed in each of the last three years to get the minimum 75 percent of the BBWAA vote required for election. A number of writers, citing unfounded rumors that Piazza may have used performance enhancing drugs along with other all-star players of his era, opted not to vote for him. Last year, he received 69.9 percent of the BBWAA vote; this time, he garnered 83 percent of the votes.
Having already been enshrined in the Mets Hall of Fame in 2013, Piazza — along with outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., also elected on Wednesday to the National Baseball Hall of Fame — will be enshrined in Cooperstown this July.