|(photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
|Tommy Lasorda and Mike Piazza, 1997 (photo courtesy of Tommy Lasorda's MLB blog, by Jon Soo Hoo)
In 2001, Piazza's emotional homers in the "healing game" following the 9/11 attacks put him forever in NYC lore as a true hero, and the city completely embraced him as their own after that. It was an emotional attachment that I believe ties the greatest hitting catcher of all time to the Mets. But I contend that the emotional ties to the Dodgers should be at least equal, probably because the young man never would have been a ball player had Tommy Lasorda not stepped forward and insisted that the Dodgers take a flyer on him.
The 1,027th player taken in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, who learned to catch in the minors and in the Dominican with Ralph Avila. He was groomed through the Dodger organization. He became a star as a Dodger. He was loved by a fanbase hungry for a genuine home grown star. Kids in the 90s idolized this player. I'll never forget that long conversation I had with my son, who was 9 years old at the time, trying to explain that stupid trade that Chase Carey stepped in and made over Fred Claire's head. Mike should have been signed to a lifetime deal.
|Jon Soo Hoo's famous photo of Piazza departing the Dodger Stadium parking lot, with the giant mural of him in the background. He had just been traded to the Florida Marlins.