Michael Joseph Piazza was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on September 4, 1968. Growing to love baseball at an early age, he received personal instruction from late Hall of Famer Ted Williams at his backyard batting cage in Pennsylvania when he was 12 years old. Piazza graduated from Phoenixville (PA) High School, where he was named league Most Valuable Player in baseball and was honored as an American Legion MVP. Piazza played one year at Miami-Dade North Community College before becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 61st selection (62nd round), the 1,390th overall pick, in the June 1988 Free Agent Draft. The pick was made at the request of fellow NIASHF Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, who is also Piazza’s godfather.
As a catcher for the New York Mets, Piazza made an immediate splash in the Major Leagues by winning the National League Rookie of the Year award with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993. Piazza is a 12-time All-Star, and won 10 consecutive silver slugger awards from 1993 to 2002. Piazza has established himself as one of the best hitting catchers in the history of the game, and has succeeded in surpassing Carlton Fisk for most home runs by a catcher, with a total of 387 over the course of his 14-season career in the major leagues.
Piazza has long been recognized as an involved and valued member of his community. He was honored in December of 2001 by the Police Athletic League for his many contributions to the City of New York. Piazza has twice received the “Good Guy” Award from the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association, on February 3, 2001 and again on January 27, 2002. He has also shared the New York Toast-of-the-Town Award with Derek Jeter and was the winner of the first annual Yogi Berra Award, given to the best baseball player in New York.
Continuing his support for charitable causes, Piazza participated from 1994-2004 in the Annual Pepsi All-Star Softball Game in Palm Spring, California to raise money for the International Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Also, from 1998-2001 Piazza donated over $100,000 to the Mets’ “Takin’ it to the Fields” program. The funds were distributed in the form of grants to Youth Baseball Leagues to repair and improve their playing fields.
In addition to being an avid supporter, contributor, and spokesperson for the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Piazza is also an inductee with the class of 2005.