It was the home run heard around the world. Just 10 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mike Piazza and the Mets brought New York’s spirit back to life. In a game against the Atlanta Braves, the future Hall of Famer would have the crowd on its feet with his two-run hit in the eighth inning. The run gave the Mets a 3-2 lead over the Braves, giving New York a much-needed win.
Now as an inducted member of the Hall of Fame, 53-year-old Mike Piazza looks back on that moments 20 years ago. Of course, the game was an emotional time for Piazza and his team. Initially, they struggled to even keep their composure after less than two weeks of the national tragedy. Still, the Mets and fellow MLB teams knew that they had to keep playing and offer a much-needed distraction from the overwhelming grief that consumed the country. Still, that night had an emotional toll on the MLB star.
“How did I feel during the game? A lot of fear. A lot of prayer. I didn’t think I would be able to get through the night emotionally,” Piazza told New York Post. “That emotional distress, like being at a funeral or seeing someone suffering. It does pull at you. It takes energy from you. And then you have to go out and execute as an athlete on the highest of stages.”
MLB Star Mike Piazza Went Against Regulations to Honor Fallen 9/11 First Responders
Before the game, Mike Piazza and his teammates made the decision to go against MLB regulations and attached NYPD and FDNY lettering to their helmets and uniforms. Usually, the league prohibits players from wearing any gear that doesn’t have their team’s logo. But the hometown star didn’t care. Together, the team decided that whatever punishment they received was worth honoring the fallen heroes from the 9/11 attacks.
“I’ve always shied away from people calling me a hero,” Piazza expressed. “We provide inspiration, entertainment and a way for people to join together as family and friends — but obviously it’s not life or death. It’s an honor that it brought people a little bit of joy.”
For Mike Piazza, that day on the diamond was surreal. He took note of every detail, especially the bagpipes, which he called “such a powerful instrument.” The MLB Hall of Famer found it hard to contain his emotions during the ceremony. As for the actual game, Piazza shared that he had to “dig down deep” to find his focus. However, the strength and support from the stands kept the player and his team going.
“I felt the support. I felt the people pulling for us. It was palpable,” he recalled. “It’s something that engulfs you and inspires you.”