Mike Piazza spoke at length about his childhood, time developing as a player and his playing career during his induction speech to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Here is a selection of his speech, where he discusses his time with the Mets:
"A week later at my home in Florida, my life‑long friend and agent, Danny Lozano, which I wish to thank for listening‑‑ for making me listen to him, told me that I was traded to the New York Mets. It was actually the last team that I had managed‑‑ that I had imagined wanted me, but it was the most amazing experience any human being could have.
I can't thank our general manager at the time, Steve Phillips, enough. Steve, you took a chance on me, and I'll be forever grateful. I would also like to thank owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon. No price could be put on the experience of playing in New York. Actually, Queens.
We were managed, at the time, by a colorful, unpredictable manager named Bobby Valentine. Bobby, I know we didn't always agree, but you were an amazing motivator, extremely intelligent baseball man, and I can honestly say that you gave the best pre‑game motivational speech I ever heard. Sorry, Tommy.
When I was traded, there was a gutsy, not so big in stature, but big heart left‑handed pitcher named Johnny Franco. He was kind enough to take me into his home and give me his number 31. I know it had special significance to him, but he unselfishly gave it me, and I will always be grateful.
The first game I caught for the Mets that year was pitched by an intimidating, yet cerebral, left‑handed pitcher with a devastating slider named Al Leiter. I never caught someone so intense and with a sense of perfection.
One time, he actually got mad at me because my idol, Mike Schmidt, was on a trip with the Phillies at Shea, and he went down to the tunnel to coach in the cage because it was raining. And I wanted so badly to talk to Schmidtty, that I was actually inadvertently coaching a few of their hitters. And he let me know about it.
We had a wonderful friendship and some amazing times on the road. And I was always ‑‑ can say that it was my biggest honor to catch one of his best pitched games, a one‑game playoff in 1999 against the Cincinnati Reds, in which he didn't shake me off one time. Really wasn't that hard, I just called for a slider.
Al, you're an amazing teammate, loving husband, and amazing father to your children. And I have the highest respect for you.
I was also very fortunate to play with some incredible teammates in New York. Edgardo Alfonzo comes to mind. Mi Panna, Edgardo Alfonzo was a great fielder and clutch hitter. Many times I can remember him picking me up when I failed to come through. As a matter of fact, one memorable three‑run home run that I hit on July 4th in the 8th inning against the Braves, Edgardo actually had an amazing two‑strike hit that tied the game and allowed me to relax and feel more confident at the plate knowing we were tied. A few guys up here know what that means.
How can I put my ‑‑ into words my thanks, love, and appreciation for New York Mets fans? You have given me the greatest gift and have graciously taken me into your family. Looking out, today, at all the incredible sea of blue and orange brings back the greatest time of my life. You guys are serious. We didn't get off on the best foot, but we both stayed with it.
At first, I was pressing to make you cheer and wasn't doing the job. You didn't take it easy on me, and I am better because of it.
Sometimes a jockey whips a horse. It isn't always pleasant to watch, but it gets results. The eight years we spent together went by way too fast. The thing I miss most is making you cheer.
No fans rock the house like Mets fans. You are passionate loyal, intelligent, and love this great game. To be the only second Met to enter the Hall of Fame, following Tom Seaver brings me great pride and joy. And I truly enjoyed Gary Carter's company. He was a wonderful man, a great player, and I miss him.
Unfortunately, it wasn't always the ups and downs of baseball season we experienced. September 11, 2001, is a day that forever changed our lives. To witness the darkest evil of the human heart and witness that as it tore many loved ones from their families will forever be burned in my soul.
But from tragedy and sorrow came bravery, love, compassion, character, and eventual healing. Many of you give me praise for the two‑run home run on the first game back on September 21st to push us ahead of the rival Braves.
But true praise belongs to police, firefighters, first responders, who knew that they were going to die, but went forward anyway.
Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends. I consider it an honor and privilege to have witnessed that love. Your families and those left behind are always in my prayers. I pray we never forget their sacrifice and work to always defeat such evil."
For Piazza's full speech, click here.