Mike Piazza will be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, MLB Network announced tonight.
Piazza will be joined in the Class of 2016 with Ken Griffey Jr., who earned a whopping 99.3 percent of votes. Piazza earned 83 percent. Jeff Bagwell was 15 votes shy of earning induction this year.
The fact that Piazza, who belted more home runs (427) in his career than any other catcher in the history of baseball, had to wait this long to get the call from the Hall is directly tied to the persistent rumors that he may have dabbled in performance-enhancing drugs during his playing days.
With his induction, Piazza will become something of a trail blazer as voters are seemingly softening their stance on alleged and confirmed “steroid guys” like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Piazza will become just the second player in history to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Tom Seaver, a 1992 inductee, also donned the Mets colors in Cooperstown.
Piazza also played for the Dodgers, Marlins, Padres and A’s but his eight-year stint in New York stands out.
“If the Hall came to me and said, ‘We want you to go in as a Dodger, ‘I’d say, ‘Well, then I’ll go in as nothing,” Piazza said in his 2013 autobiography. “I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with ‘LA’ stamped on my head for all of eternity.”
Piazza is regarded as one of the top offensive catchers of all-time, as he is fourth all-time among catchers in RBI. In 16 MLB seasons, Piazza drove in 1,335 runs and registered 2,127 hits.
Piazza was involved in two of the more memorable plays in MLB history, for entirely different reasons. He hit a go-ahead, eighth inning home run on Sept. 21, 2001 at Shea Stadium – 10 days after the terrorist attacks in Manhattan. It was the first professional sporting event played in the city following the attacks.
In the 2000 World Series, Piazza broke his bat off a pitch thrown by Clemens. The Yankees hurler threw the barrel of the bat directly at Piazza and was seen shouting, “I thought it was the ball.”