|Born: September 4, 1968
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|September 1, 1992 for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 2007 for the Oakland Athletics|
|Runs batted in||1,335|
|Career highlights and awards|
Michael Joseph "Mike" Piazza (pronounced /piːˈɑːtsə/ or /piːˈɑːzə/); (born September 4, 1968, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Phoenixvile, PA) is an Italian American former Major League Baseball catcher. He played in his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres and the Oakland Athletics.
He is a 12-time All-Star. Piazza is often regarded as the best-hitting catcher of all time, and holds the career record for home runs hit by a catcher with 396. He had at least one RBI in 15 consecutive games for the New York Mets in 2000, the second-longest RBI streak ever (Ray Grimes of the Chicago Cubs had 17 consecutive games in 1922).
Piazza grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania with his parents, Vince and Veronica, and brothers Vince Jr., Danny, Tony, and Tommy. He attended Phoenexville Area High School and graduated class of 1984. When Piazza was 12 and 6 months, he received personal instruction from the late Hall of Famer Ted Williams in his backyard batting cage.
Vince Piazza was a childhood friend of former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. When the Dodgers came to Philadelphia, Piazza had the opportunity to spend time in the Dodger clubhouse and dugout.
Piazza was the last player the Dodgers drafted in the 1988 draft. He was their selection in the 62nd round. The pick was partly a favor on the part of Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who is godfather to one of Piazza's brothers (Tommy, who was named after Lasorda) and, like Piazza, is originally from Norristown. Piazza swore he'd learn to catch if he was drafted. Piazza's Major League debut came with the Dodgers in 1992, when he appeared in 21 games. He then won the National League MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1993.
Piazza's best season with the Dodgers was 1997, a year when he finished second in MVP voting. He hit .362, with 40 home runs and 124 runs batted in, an on base percentage of .431 and a slugging percentage of .638.
He played six seasons for the Dodgers until he was traded to the Florida Marlins on May 15, 1998. Piazza and Todd Zeile went to the Marlins in return for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Manuel Barrios, and Jim Eisenreich.
One week later, on May 22, Piazza was traded from the Marlins to the New York Mets for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall, and Geoff Goetz. Upon his arrival in New York, Piazza was routinely booed at first for his early struggles before fans warmed up to him. Despite stellar numbers from Piazza, the Mets missed the 1998 postseason by one game. Piazza helped the Mets to two consecutive playoff appearances for the only time in Mets history in 1999 and 2000. The latter of the two resulted in a National League pennant and World Series appearance, where the Mets lost in five games to a Yankees team winning their fourth World Series in five years. Of note, all five games were decided by two runs or fewer, something that had not occurred in a World Series in almost 70 years. He became known as The Monster after coach John Stearns was caught on tape during the 2000 National League Championship Series after a Piazza hit saying "The Monster is out of the Cage."  
Piazza was involved in a bizarre incident in Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. In the first inning, Piazza was facing Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens and broke his bat fouling off a pitch. The barrel of his bat flew towards Clemens's feet at the pitcher's mound. Clemens picked up the broken barrel and heaved it in the direction of Piazza running up the first base line sparking both benches to clear, but with no ejections. The reason this incident sparked this reaction was because earlier in the season, during interleague play when the Mets played the Yankees, Piazza was drilled in the head by a Roger Clemens pitch. Piazza suffered a concussion and was forced to miss the 2000 MLB All-Star Game as a result.
On September 21, 2001, ten days after the terrorist attacks of September 11 the Mets faced their rivals the Atlanta Braves in the first professional sporting event hosted in New York City since the tragedy. After an emotional pre-game ceremony the two teams played a tense unfocused game in the reserved atmosphere of Shea Stadium. With the Mets down 2–1 and one man on in the bottom of the eight inning, Piazza hit what is considered the most significant home run of his career, a two-run blast off Braves reliever Steve Karsay that put the Mets ahead 3–2 securing a victory. The blast to deep left center field provided a frenzy of emotional release. The significance of Piazza's spirit-lifting home run has been cited as one of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history.
To ease the stress on his deteriorating knees, Piazza began to split his time between catching and playing first base during the 2004 season, an experiment which was abandoned before the end of the season because of Piazza's defensive deficiencies. Although recognized as a great hitter, Piazza has also caught two no-hitters thrown by Ramón Martínez and Hideo Nomo. Nomo's was particularly impressive because it happened at Coors Field, notorious at the time for being a hitter-friendly ballpark.
On May 5, 2004, Piazza surpassed Carlton Fisk for most home runs by a catcher with his 352nd as a catcher.
On October 2, 2005, Piazza played his final game in a Mets uniform, as it was well-reported that the All-Star catcher and the team would part ways following the season as Piazza's seven-year Mets contract expired. During the game against the Colorado Rockies, Mets manager Willie Randolph replaced Piazza after the eighth inning, at which point the Shea Stadium crowd of 47,718 serenaded him with a standing ovation, at which point Piazza humbly bowed to the stands and blew kisses to the adoring fans. The game was delayed for eight minutes while fans shouted and clapped rhythmically, with the ballpark's video screen displaying memories of Piazza's 972-game Mets career over nearly eight years in New York, as players from both the Mets and Rockies stood at the steps of their dugouts and clapped in appreciation of Piazza's legendary Mets tenure.
Following the 2005 season, Piazza filed for free agency and he signed a one year contact with the San Diego Padres on January 29, 2006. Serving as the Padres'starting catcher and clean-up hitter. Piazza experienced somewhat of a rejuvenation in 2006, batting .283 with 22 homers and helping the Padres to a division title. On July 21, 2006, Mike Piazza collected his 2,000th career hit in the major leagues.
On August 8, 2006, Piazza played his first game at Shea Stadium since leaving the Mets. During the three-game series, Piazza drew frequent, repeated standing ovations which were indicative of the high level of regard held by New York's fans. It was on par with that of Tom Seaver on his return to pitch at Shea Stadium in 1977 and 1978. Even more telling was during that series. In an event on August 9 he drew a rare curtain call in the opposing park following a home run off of Mets pitcher Pedro Martínez in the 4th inning. Not done for the day, Piazza went deep off Martinez again in the 6th. And with the Mets ahead 4-2 in the 8th, and two runners aboard, Piazza hit one to the wall in center, nearly bashing his third homer of the day and putting the Padres ahead. The fans, ecstatic that he'd hit two, did not get the chance to react to a third.
Piazza signed as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics on December 8, 2006. On June 23, 2007, he received a standing ovation when he brought out the lineup card for the Athletics at Shea Stadium. He was unable to play in the series because he was on the disabled list.
On July 25, 2007, in the top of the ninth inning in a game between the Angels and Athletics at Angel Stadium, a fan threw a water bottle that hit Piazza, who had homered earlier in the game. Piazza then pointed his bat in the stands at the fan he believed threw the water bottle to get the attention of security. The fan, who was identified as Roland Flores from La Puente, California, was arrested by the ballpark security. Piazza pressed charges against Flores. Flores was sentenced to 30 days in prison and three years of probation on March 27, 2008.
Only seven other players have ever had over 400 home runs with over a .300 lifetime average while never striking out more than 100 times in a season (Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Chipper Jones).
After not being signed to any MLB team for the 2008 season, Piazza announced his retirement on May 20, 2008, saying, "After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it is time to start a new chapter in my life. It has been an amazing journey."
Piazza thanked all of his fans for their support, saying, "Last but certainly not least, I can't say goodbye without thanking the fans. I can't recall a time in my career where I didn't feel embraced by all of you. Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and Miami—whether it was at home or on the road, you were all so supportive over the years. But I have to say that my time with the Mets wouldn't have been the same without the greatest fans in the world. One of the hardest moments of my career, was walking off the field at Shea Stadium and saying goodbye. My relationship with you made my time in New York the happiest of my career and for that, I will always be grateful."
Piazza made a return to Shea Stadium during the "Shea Goodbye" closing ceremony on September 28, 2008, where he received the final pitch in the history of the stadium from Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Piazza and Seaver were also afforded the immense honor of officially "closing" Shea when they walked off together into the center field exit and closed the door on the park after waving goodbye to the capacity crowd. The two are generally regarded as the greatest hitter and pitcher, respectively, in the history of the franchise.
During the 2005 season, Piazza was the ninth highest paid MLB player at $16,071,429. On January 29, 2006, Mike Piazza accepted a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres worth up to $2 million. On December 8, 2006, Piazza signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Oakland Athletics. He replaced Frank Thomas as the Athletics' designated hitter.
On January 29, 2005, Piazza married Playboy Playmate Alicia Rickter at St. Jude's Catholic Church in Miami, Florida, before 120 guests, including his best friend Eric Karros, Brande Roderick, Lisa Dergan, Anjelica Bridges, Al Leiter, John Franco and Iván Rodríguez.
On February 3, 2007, Piazza's wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter. Nicoletta Veronica Piazza was born at 4:07 a.m. in New York City. She weighed 5 lbs., 8 oz. and measured 19 inches long.Mike and Alicia are currently expecting their second child.  He is known to be a fan of heavy metal music, and is featured on the CD Stronger Than Death by Black Label Society. He is also godfather to Zakk Wylde's son, Hendrix.
Piazza is a devout Roman Catholic and was featured in Champions of Faith, a DVD documentary exploring the intersection of Catholic religious faith and sports. He also appeared in the followup video Champions of Faith: Bases of Life.
Piazza is also avidly involved in the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago.
In 2006, DHL started a campaign for Hometown Heroes, in which 5 of the greatest players in all 30 teams history were up for the award. Piazza was nominated for the Mets hero along with John Franco, Tug McGraw, Tom Seaver, and Keith Hernandez. The spot was eventually won by Seaver.
He appears in the 2002 Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant movie, "Two Weeks Notice".
In 2000, he contributed guest vocals for the Black Label Society song Stronger than Death.
In the 2002 movie Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, Betty hears an echo, and decides to pretend he is a PA announcer and says "Now batting, MIKE PIAZZA!"
There is a song called "Piazza, New York Catcher" on the Scottish indie-pop group Belle and Sebastian's 2003 album Dear Catastrophe Waitress. The song references the persistent but unfounded rumors that Piazza is gay.
In an episode of "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" Sheen makes a reference to him.
In an episode of "The King of Queens," while in jail at a Mets game, a drunk fan continuously screams "Piazza!"
He is referenced in The Stackhouse Filibuster, a Season 2 episode of the TV drama The West Wing in which the senior White House staffers are prevented from leaving for their weekend plans by a seemingly neverending filibuster in the Senate. Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman is trying to make it to Port St. Lucie to see the New York Mets play, and is especially determined to have Mike Piazza call him "dude."