Mike Piazza is the American Dream

The 62nd Round Favor

Mark J. Terrill / AP

Mark J. Terrill / AP

For Piazza, getting drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB Draft offered a chance to reunite with a family friend. Tommy Lasorda, a childhood friend of Piazza’s dad and godfather to Mike’s brother Tommy, called in a favor with the Dodger brass. Being selected as the 1,390th overall pick, chances Piazza would only fill a minor-league roster for a year or two and then retire.

That his selection came as a favor, did not endear Piazza to coaches in the lowest rungs of the Dodger farm system. With the support of Lasorda and former All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder, turned Dodger minor league instructor Reggie Smith, Piazza hung in there. As history proved, he would turn himself into the greatest hitting catcher in the game’s history.

Putting Piazza’s likelihood of success in perspective, it’s interesting to see how few 62nd-round players have any impact on a major league roster. From 1965 to 1997, when the draft had a 62nd round, only four players have played in a major-league game. Aside from Piazza, no player made more than 59 games. Piazza is the only player with a career WAR above replacement level.

 

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