On Sunday, Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. became the latest players inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Piazza joined The Jim Rome Show on Thursday and spoke about the emotional weekend which was capped off by him joining the sport’s most exclusive club.
“[There was] a lot of anxiety, obviously because of the emotions. I was very emotional during my speech,” Piazza said. “It was emotional to write it, it was emotional to think back of all the times, and you know going way back to L.A., how fast time flies. You just start to think about how fast it’s been and just what a great time of my life it was and all the people that helped me. My unofficial theme was more or less you do not go into the Hall of Fame alone, and I hope that people sort of receive that out of my speech.”
Part of Piazza’s Hall of Fame plaque reads ‘helped rally a nation one year with his dramatic home run in the first Mets game in New York following the 9/11 attacks.’ The longtime Mets player put the meaning of that sentence into perspective.
“We would never ever choose to be sort of connected to a tragedy like that, but as I said in the speech that we were thrown in that cauldron,” Piazza said. “People look to the home run I hit as a sign of heeling and trying to move on, but there are so many heroes, obviously, and many that aren’t with us, as I mentioned, the families that I think about every day and these things are just scarred in my memory and will always be, and I mean, I don’t see how when you go through something like that it won’t affect you for the rest of your life. So the fact it is on my plaque and it will be in there for eternity is something that is so special to me, and I’m glad that people look to that as a sign of healing and a little bit and may give them a little peace as well.”
Piazza admits that he is a very spiritual person and talked about what it was like on the night they resumed professional sports activity in New York following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
“I truly believe there was so many people praying for me and pulling for me that I think that’s what got me over the top and allowed me to come through in that situation, because emotionally, I was a wreck,” Piazza said. “I was in tears in the pre-game and I was praying. I said, God, please, please, let me pull it together, and because we just didn’t know what to think. I mean, going back there was so many mixed emotions. We didn’t even know if we were going to be there and obviously baseball wouldn’t even be in the same universe as something as so tragic as that, so we just wanted to try to get through the night in one piece and we were blessed to do that.”
Piazza added that his home run trot that night was surreal.
“I don’t remember hitting the ground at all in that situation. Again, just euphoria,” Piazza said. “I mean, someone even made a comment, ‘Do you have any of the equipment or anything?’ It wasn’t like, even a few days after you wouldn’t think something like that would be held in such significance so no. The fact that we were able to come through, and that whole night was just a wonderful night, was very special and obviously will be a big part of my career and my life.”