Throughout Mike Piazza’s professional baseball career, the man regarded as one of the best catchers in the history of the sport bagged several awards and achievements, in turn, rewarding himself with enormous wealth. The former baseball catcher played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), from 1992 to 2007 for the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers where he spent a large bulk of his career. He also had brief stints with the Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Oakland Athletics before retiring in 2007. He had a colorful life and career timeline which is detailed below.
Mike Piazza’s Bio
Of Italian and Jewish (Slovak) ancestry, Michael Joseph Piazza was born on September 4, 1968, in Norristown, Pennsylvania to Vince and Veronica Piazza. He is the second-oldest son of his parents and grew up in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania with his brothers; Vince Jr., Danny, Tony, and Tommy.
His father played baseball as a boy and was hopeful of a career in MLB until the age of 16 when he left school to support his family. Although he didn’t get a chance to play his dream sport, his hope was revived when he saw the potentials in his young son, Mike. At that, he rekindled the flame and set the fire in his son guiding him in the right direction. From the age of five, he coached Mike in the sport and encouraged him to build his arm strength.
His training defied timing and occasion; from throwing hundreds of pitches nightly to his son to clearing snow if necessary to practice hitting and practising on Christmas Eve after reaching the big leagues, Vince was all out to see that the son who shares his focus on baseball succeeds. Moreover, he ensured that Mike met with the right people and had the right inspirations required to make him one of the greats in the batting and catching game. Vince may not have played in the major leagues or even the minor leagues but he kept his passion for the sport blazing. He made a fortune of over $100 million in used cars and real estate and attempted several times to purchase an MLB franchise
Mike Piazza grew up a fan of his state-based team, the Philadelphia Phillies and also admired one of their finest as well as MLB’s finest player, Hall of Fame Third baseman Mike Schmidt. He served as a bat boy when the Dodgers—managed by Vince’s childhood friend Tommy Lasorda, who would later play a major role in his son’s future career—visited Philadelphia.
At the age of 12, he had the privilege of receiving personal instruction in the comfort of his backyard batting cage from Hall of Famer, Ted Williams who was thrilled at the youngster’s talent and did not hesitate to tell him so. Williams further advised him to hold on to his swing and not to let anyone change it, he then autographed Piazza’s copy of Williams’ The Science of Hitting. With such attention and training, it wasn’t surprising that Mike ended up not only playing his beloved sport but also ranking among the greatest of all time therein.
He attended Phoenixville Area High School and graduated in 1986. Following high school, he enrolled in the University of Miami where he joined the Miami Hurricanes in his freshman year. He would later transfer to Miami-Dade North following the season as he did not receive any playing time.
Mike Piazza Kicked off his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers following his pick as a first baseman by the team in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft as the 1,390th overall pick. His draft was a favor to Piazza’s father from Lasorda but to the player, it was a perfect platform to advance his career.
At Lasorda’s suggestion, Piazza converted to a catcher to improve his chances of being promoted in the major league. Interestingly, he adapted easily and became an excellent hitter afterwards, especially for a catcher. After seven years with the Dodgers, he went on to play for other notable clubs. He was traded to the Florida Marlins in 1998 and after one week, to the New York Mets whom he played with for seven full seasons; from 1998 to 2005. He helped the Mets to reach the 2000 World Championship Series, the only World Series appearance in his career. Then, he had a one year stint with the San Diego Padres after which he played his last season in the league as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics before his retirement which came after the 2007 season.
Piazza is regarded as one of the best power hitting catchers ever. His career highlights include being named the 1993 National League (NL) Rookie of the Year, made 12 All-Star games including 10 consecutive times, won a record 10 Louisville Silver Sluggers Awards, and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting seven times: twice as a runner up and once in the third place. He had at least one RBI in 15 consecutive games for the Mets in 2000, the second-longest RBI streak ever as well as played in eight different playoff series in five different seasons.
Furthermore, he compiled impressive stats which include: 6911 at-bats, 1048 runs, 2127 hits, 427 homers, 1335 runs batted in, 17 stolen bases, .308 batting average, .377 on base percentage, and .922 on-base plus slugging.
Post-retirement, Mike Piazza purchased the Italian soccer team A.C. Reggiana 1919 in 2016 with the hope of raising the club from Italy’s third division to Serie A. However, after two seasons in Serie C under his leadership, the club wound up after continued financial troubles, declared bankruptcy in July 2017.
After three failed attempts, Piazza was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Met in 2016. Before that, he was already a New York Mets Hall of Famer since 2013. In February 2013, he released his memoir titled Long Shot.
His Net Worth
The former baseball player is in the league of rich sportsmen and women. He earned a major bulk of his wealth from his several contracts and prize money. Although there are several figures quoted as the value of the catcher’s wealth, his net worth is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $70 million.
Is Mike Piazza Gay? – Wife
During his days with the Mets, rumors went round that the catcher was gay. However, he has since addressed the issue and stated clearly that he is not gay. What further proof could there be than his longtime heterosexual relationship with his wife?
Mike Piazza got married to Playboy Playmate Alicia Rickter on January 29, 2005, at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Miami, Florida. The couple has two daughters: Nicoletta born on February 3, 2007, and Paulina born on August 3, 2009, and a son Marco who was born in July 2013.