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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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All Eyes on Mike

One of the umpires working the Mets-Marlins game in Miami on Sunday should have taken a moment from making an eventually overturned call and blown a whistle to order a stoppage in play after a couple of innings. Baseball doesn’t operate like that, but how could any Mets fan worth his parmesan dedicate all of his or her bandwidth to just another game — no matter its relative import in the standings — when an almost unprecedented Metsian occasion was unfolding far north of where Michael Conforto was diving, Jose Reyes was tripling and Steven Matz was pitching?

Mike Piazza drew our attention from what every other Met was up to. When he played, it was by coming to bat. This time, it was by coming to speak.

Mike was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. I’m not sure at what point he was officially inducted. He was elected in January, but what’s the point of demarcation that separates election from induction? No Chief Justice of the Baseball Court appears in Cooperstown with a request to raise your right hand and repeat an oath, so it’s hard to pin down. Is it when the newbie is called to the stage by emcee Gary Thorne? Is it when Commissioner Rob Manfred finishes reading the description on the plaque? Or is it when a Piazza or Ken Griffey, Jr. starts to talk?

I thought Mike Piazza was a Hall of Famer ages ago, so I shouldn’t worry about such niceties, but I’m glad the BBWAA inscribed his Fame for good, because we got to hear him speak at length. It was worth missing a couple of innings of Mets-Marlins. It was worth waiting four elections as well, but don’t tell those who unjustifiably delayed the inevitable.

You thought Piazza could hit. The man can accept induction just as powerfully.

Piazza is not under the impression he ascended to baseball immortality by himself. Through sniffles that seemed to have nothing to do with allergies or a summer cold, Mike emotionally namechecked most everybody who gave him a boost along the way. There were parents and coaches and Dodgers by the bushel. Since he was going in as a Met, of course he mentioned Mets. He praised John Franco’s generosity for handing him No. 31. He paid homage to his batterymate Al Leiter. He credited Edgardo Alfonzo’s excellence for facilitating his own. All of that was much appreciated, but I have to confess I listened most closely to hear what he said about us:

“How can I put 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 only the second Met to enter the Hall of Fame, after 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.”

After that — and a heartfelt tribute to those who gave their lives in the hope that others could live on September 11, 2001, ten days before Mike hit what is generally considered the most meaningful of his 427 big league home runs — it was hard to remember the Mets were still playing the Marlins. And when you remembered, it was hard to imagine they could lose, which they didn’t dare.

5 comments to All Eyes on Mike

  • Dave

    I’m no doctor, but whatever it was making Piazza sniffle was highly contagious. For him to talk about us in those terms on that stage, that nobody brings the noise like Mets fans do…as the greatest banner ever (Rangers 1994 Cup) read, Now I Can Die in Peace.

    Ok, I can die in peace if the Mets win another World Series. Let’s put things in perspective. But yesterday was one of the best days ever to be a Mets fan.

  • Dennis

    Great speech by Mike, great day to be a Mets fan (coupled with a win in Miami). Nice to see him specifically mention Queens as well.

  • Gil

    When I just think about the 9/11 home run someone in the room starts cutting onions.

    Great job by one of our guys. As Dennis noted, great to have Queens called out.

    Matz looked pretty good last night.

    also – how about Trav been offered for Lucroy! I think Sandy gets that deal done, as Lucroy is in a walk year. And lord knows the Mets love a rental!

  • Pete In Iowa

    All of us here have always known that to be a Mets fan is to be a small part of a unique family.
    To hear Mr. Piazza acknowledge his membership in and appreciation of our family was beautiful indeed.

  • Steve J

    Mike’s induction speech was the best I have ever heard. He didn’t ramble on about nonsense. He humbly thanked everyone who helped him to achieve greatness as a baseball player. His thanking the fans as he did was terrific!
    He even praised his fellow inductee, Griffey, Jr. who in turn made no mention whatsoever of Mike.
    Number 31 is the greatest hitting catcher of all time. I’m glad he went into Cooperstown as a New York Met!