Gary Carter, Mookie Wilson, Mike Piazza, David Wright. Those are the names of some of my favorite Mets players. When Mike Piazza was finally honored by getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I knew a trip to Cooperstown for the ceremony wouldn’t be possible. I held out hope the Mets would announce a ceremony to retire Piazza’s #31. Sure enough, they announced such a thing and I knew I was going to be at Citi Field for it.
There was rain on and off most of the day and many questions arose whether the ceremony and game would take place. Luckily the rain held off for long enough to get in a great ceremony and the game was played after a short delay. (The outcome of which is pretty forgettable.)
Nik and I sat in section 312 which gave us a nice view of everything on the field and also the safety of the overhang should the rain return. Along with Piazza’s family, several of his former teammates were there: Al Leiter, Edgardo Alfonzo and Cliff Floyd. As usual, Howie Rose served as the MC. There were a few video montages, including one where Piazza started out in the parking lot at the home plate of Shea Stadium and made his way through the tunnels of Citi Field and out through the Mets dugout to the field. Many of the current team were on the top step watching the ceremony.
The fans were cheering like it was the playoffs again. Piazza could barely get a word in when he started to speak. It was a light hearted speech, with many thanks and shout outs to the fans. I can’t imagine being in shoes – for his career and especially these last few weeks. Thank YOU, Mike Piazza, for coming to New York and leaving a lasting impression on so many of us.
The ceremony wrapped up with a unique first pitch: Piazza throwing from home plate to Leiter on the mound.
I’m glad to have been at Citi Field for this ceremony, as opposed to the HOF induction, where seating was controlled and the view was much better. I will get to Cooperstown once again to see Piazza’s plaque, along with Carter’s and so many other baseball greats. (My previous visit was a stop while doing college visits and I have a vague recollection of visiting.) [View my full set of ceremony pictures here.]
The game itself started out well, but as the last few had gone, the Mets lost. Bartolo Colon was on the mound. (Nik and I had just seen him a few weeks ago at Wrigley.) Due the weather, mostly the humidity, we left the game early, but not before seeing a Colon bat which is always something to enjoy.
I also managed to see a few of my favorite Mets fans: Jason, Ed and Coop, before heading out.
*Also of note, nice to see some of the chop shops getting cleared out: