In less than two weeks, catcher Mike Piazza will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The soon-to-be Hall of Famer started 10 All-Star Games at catcher, representing the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, and was on the roster for two more. His 10 starts are tied with Johnny Bench for the most by a National League catcher. A look back at some of his classic midsummer moments:
1995, The Ballpark in Arlington: Game-Tying HR
In his third All-Star Game, Piazza made his second start, catching Dodgers batterymate Hideo Nomo. Piazza hit a solo home run off Kenny Rogers in his third at-bat to tie the game 2-2. The NL would go on to win on Jeff Conine's eighth-inning solo shot.
1996, Veterans Stadium: Hometown Hero
The game was played less than 25 miles from Piazza’s hometown, Norristown, Pennsylvania. Piazza caught a ceremonial first pitch from one of his childhood heroes -- Mike Schmidt -- and then put on an MVP performance. Piazza went 2-of-3 with a home run and a double, while catching seven innings from, among others, future Hall-of-Famers John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez. With Piazza's second career All-Star HR, Piazza joined Gary Carter (3) and Johnny Bench (3) as the only catchers with multiple All-Star home runs in their careers.
July 13, 2004, Minute Maid Park: Catching Clemens
Piazza and Roger Clemens had become inextricably linked in the 2000 postseason, when Clemens appeared to throw a piece of a broken bat in Piazza’s direction as the Mets catcher ran up the first-base line. In the 2004 Midsummer Classic, they became batterymates for the first and only time in their careers, in Clemens’ first year in the NL with Houston. Clemens gave up six runs, five hits and two home runs -- all career-worst numbers for him in an All-Star Game.
2013, Citi Field: Older, Still Powerful
Piazza returned to the playing field in Flushing for the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at age 44. In front of his old fans, Piazza hit two home runs and caught the final out -- a popup from a former member of the rival Yankees: Bernie Williams. Coincidentally, Williams caught Piazza’s fly ball to end the 2000 World Series.
2013, Citi Field: Derby First Pitch
A two-time Home Run Derby veteran (though he hit no home runs either time), Piazza was chosen to throw out the first pitch before the derby at Citi Field in 2013. It was the first All-Star Game hosted by the Mets since 1964 at Shea Stadium, and the first Home Run Derby (won by future Met Yoenis Cespedes) hosted by the club.