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Mike Piazza

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Mike Piazza photo

Catcher Mike Piazza of the New York Mets bats in a 2002 game.

Christopher Ruppel/Getty Images
Updated July 31, 2012

Vital Statistics:

Born: Sept. 4, 1968

Hometown: Norristown, Pa.

Height: 6-3

Weight: 200

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

Family: Wife, Alicia Richter (former Playboy playmate); daughters Nicoletta and Paulina

Primary position: Catcher

Before the bigs:

  • Father was a childhood friend of Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.
  • Worked as a batboy for the Phillies as a youngster and even received personal instruction from Hall of Famer Ted Williams.
  • As a favor, Lasorda and the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Piazza as a first baseman out of Miami-Dade Community College in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, the 1,390th player selected.
  • Converted to a catcher in the minor leagues, he hit for power early, belting 29 homers at age 22 for High-A Bakersfield in 1991, then hit .350 with 23 homers between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Albuquerque in 1992.

Career Highlights:

  • One of the top catchers of all-time, and perhaps the best offensively in baseball history.
  • His 427 career home runs are the most ever for a catcher, passing Carlton Fisk (376), and Piazza batted .308 lifetime.
  • Hit more than 30 home runs in eight consecutive seasons (1995 to 2002) and hit .300 in eight consecutive seasons (1993 to 2001).
  • Caught two no-hitters in his career, both with the Dodgers (thrown by Hideo Nomo and Ramon Martinez).
  • Batted .232 in a brief call-up as a rookie for the Dodgers, and belted his first big-league homer against Bud Black of the Giants on Sept. 12, 1992.
  • Made the Dodgers as the starting catcher in 1993 and was named National League Rookie of the Year, hitting .318 with 35 homers and 112 RBI. The home run total was a record for a Dodgers rookie.
  • Finished second in the NL in hitting in 1994, batting .346 with 32 homers and 93 RBI.
  • Was the All-Star Game MVP in 1996, hitting an upper-deck home run in his native Philadelphia.
  • Never won an MVP award, but finished second in back-to-back seasons in 1996 and 1997.
  • He batted .336 with 36 homers in 1996, and then had perhaps the best offseason ever for a catcher in 1997, when he batting .362 with 40 homers, 124 RBI and 201 hits. It was the fourth-most homers for a catcher in big-league history, and his .362 average was the highest ever by a National League catcher, and his 201 hits set a record for any player who caught 130 games or more.
  • Traded to the cost-cutting Florida Marlins in May 1998 with third baseman Todd Zeile for outfielder Gary Sheffield, catcher Charles Johnson, third baseman Bobby Bonilla and outfielder Jim Eisenrich. He was flipped a week later to the New York Mets for three prospects.
  • After hitting .328, he received a seven-year contract with the Mets, where he became a fan favorite and the best catcher in team history.
  • Hit .303 and matched his career-high with 40 homers and 124 RBI in 1999.
  • Had a big season in 2000, when the Mets won the pennant. Batted .351 in the second half and .324 overall with 38 homers and 113 RBI and finished third in MVP voting.
  • Played for a pennant winner just once in his career, with the 2000 Mets, who lost in the World Series to the crosstown Yankees. He hit two homers in the five-game series.
  • Finished his career with single seasons with the San Diego Padres, helping lead the Padres to a division title, and his final season with the Oakland Athletics in 2007.
  • Made $120 million in salary in his 16-year career, with his salary ranging from $126,000 as a rookie to $16 million in his final season with the Mets in 2005.

After retirement:

  • Owns a chain of auto dealerships in the Philadelphia area, the Piazza Auto Group.
  • Managed the USA team in the All-Star Futures game in 2011.
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