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Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza: Proof that Hard Work, Perseverance, and Determination Do Pay Off!

By Sasha Gagarin, sgagarin@hotmail.com


Throughout Mike Piazza's baseball career, he has been known as "hot looking," "sexy," and overall "best looking," man on his baseball team. However, there is another side of Mike Piazza that fans often over look. When Piazza first attempted to play baseball in the minor leagues, he was, to say the least, not an instant star.

As most Piazza fans know, Mike started out as a first baseman. This was the position that he played as a youth, in High School, as well as when he was first being looked at by major league scouts. However, Tom Lasorda helped to make Mike's dream of playing baseball in the big leagues a reality. When Lasorda talked to Los Angeles Dodgers scouting director, Ben Wade, he was told that the Dodgers has no use for a first baseman. Furthermore, Mike's evaluation in scouting reports, (not necessarily made by the Dodgers organization,) said that he was too slow, and that he had never showed exceptional defensive skills, or any where near a strong throwing arm.

Despite the poor ratings, long time Dodgers manager, Lasorda, was determined to try to get Mike a job. He called in a favor from the University of Miami, and was able to get Piazza spot on the baseball team. However, Mike only got one hit in 9 at bats as a freshman. Mike soon transferred to Miami Dade-North Community College, where he hit .364 his first season.

It is a well-known fact that Mike received personal compliments by the "Splendid Splinter" himself, Ted Williams, when Mike was young. Williams said that he was impressed with the way Mike hit and even said that Piazza hit better then the "Splinter," was when he was Mike's age. Vincent, Piazza's father, also spoke with Joe DiMaggio, in hopes to improve his son's hitting ability. With this All-Star staff helping Michael, his swing soon improved.

Despite Mike's impressive hitting ability, (hitting .364 the previous year,) the Dodgers still had no need for any more first baseman. Still, Tom convinced Mike to fly down to Los Angeles and work out in front of scouting director, Ben Wade. Mike agreed. While watching Piazza work out with the Dodgers, Lasorda asked Wade if the organization needed a catcher, (seeing as how they had many first baseman,) and when Wade answered yes, Tommy responded: "Ok, he's a catcher." Finally, seeing Lasorda's seemingly never ending determination, they drafted Mike Piazza in the 62nd round.

However, since Piazza had never played behind the plate before, Mike was sent to the Dominican Republic, where the Dodgers had a freshly opened baseball academy. This is where he learned how to become a catcher. Mike was the first American to attend this camp and although he knew no Spanish he still managed to stick it out and went to the minor leagues the following spring.

In his first two years in the Minors, he hit only 14 home runs in 145 games. In fact, during his year, Mike considered quitting baseball all together, in order to pursue a job in his father's car dealership. However, he decided against it. Piazza's numbers, and ultimately career, blossomed from there. In his third year in the minor leagues with Bakersfield (Class-A,) he hit 29 homeruns with 80 RBI's. Piazza spent that winter playing baseball too. This time though, he played in the Mexican League. Although he had to endure long bus trips he did make it worthwhile by hitting .330.

A year later, Mike quickly went from Double-A San Antonio, to Triple-A Albuquerque. While there he hit .341 and crushed 16 homers. He was called up to the Major Leagues in September, but only got to play in 21 games. When the season ended, he played winter ball in the Arizona Fall League. However, few watched him compete and he only hit .291.

During Spring Training of 1992 he hit .478 and replaced declining catching great, Mike Scioscia. Three months later, Mike was hitting .317 with 18 homeruns and 58 RBI's he made the All-Star team.

To all of the baseball and Mike Piazza fans who think that Mike is just some "hot baseball player," and do not really care about his talent or his ability on the field, I hope this article makes you think twice about the players of today's organizations and the struggle that they had to endure to get to where they are today.

the Webmaster