The Self Made Hall of Famer
It took Piazza until his fourth year on the ballot to make the Hall of Fame. The same player who was drafted as a minor league spot filler, made it to the majors. It was his hard work and determination that got him there. His ability to improve and focus on his skill helped him stay there. His consistency, despite playing a position that is meant to physically break down players, made him one of baseball’s best.
There was a chance that Piazza’s rumored, but never proved association with the steroid era was going to keep him out. Other Piazza critics would often point to his career caught stealing numbers. While Ivan Rodriguez was the defensive icon of that era, Piazza’s offense more than helped his defensive deficiencies.
The fact that there was a chance Piazza would either run out of time, given the new voting rules, he could have endured the fate of Ted Simmons. Much like Piazza, he played in the shadows of a defensive legend like Johnny Bench, but put up great offensive numbers for his era. Simmons was usually saddled with this idea that he was a poor defender. With most signs pointed at his inability to throw out base runners, he was a longtime catcher in the league. Simmons garnered less than four percent of the vote in the 1994 Hall of Fame balloting, knocking him off future ballots; a terrible omission from the Hall of Fame.
Piazza’s induction is proof of The American Dream. His ability to fight long odds to not only make the majors, let alone succeed displayed a great work ethic. He went beyond that to not only become a star player but becoming a cultural icon was the icing on the cake. For baseball fans, his baseball success story is what resonates with the former Little Leaguer in all of us. Congrats Mike, this is an honor well earned and deserved.