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Mike Piazza - Batter Up

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Mike Piazza grew up living and breathing baseball. His focus was fueled by his father's passion for the game. From an early age he began to practice his batting. In an interview with Sports Illustrated Piazza said, "I would come home from school, get a snack, watch cartoons then hit. Every spring I would see I was hitting the ball farther and farther." Piazza would act as a batboy when the Dodgers were in town, due to his father's connection with Tommy Lasorda. In his senior year at Phoenixville High School he broke the schools record for career home runs. It was obvious his practice was paying off. Although Piazza's stats were good, the talent scouts did not seem to find him remarkable. He was passed up for any opportunities to break into the major leagues. Fortunately, having Lasorda as a family friend proved to be invaluable. Lasorda arranged a spot for Piazza with the University of Miami Hurricanes. He did not do well in the single season he played with the Hurricanes and decided to transfer to Miami-Dade Community College. He was unable to play most of the season with the school due to a hand injury, so Lasorda once again stepped in to help Piazza out by influencing the Dodgers to draft the young Piazza, who was picked last in the 62nd round. When Piazza consistently blew the balls out of the ballpark for the Dodgers scouting director, Ben Wade, he knew they would find a place for him. Lasorda worked with Wade to come up with a way for Piazza to make it with the Dodgers. Wade finally agreed when Lasorda suggested that Piazza play the position of catcher. Wade was hooked, and offered Piazza a $15,000 signing bonus. Piazza gladly accepted the offer, remarking that he could have cared less about the money and would have paid for the opportunity.

Chronology

1968 Born September 4 in Norristown, Pennsylvania
1986 Breaks Phoenixville High School's record for career home runs
1986 Plays for the University of Miami Hurricanes
1987 Transfers to Miami-Dade Community College
1988 Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers
1989 Plays his rookie season in Arizona on Dodger's instructional league team
1989 Attends Campo Las Palamas in Dominican Republic to hone his catching skills
1991 Catches full time with Class A Bakersfield
1992 Plays his first major league game for the Dodgers
1993 Hits the most home runs for a rookie catcher
1993 Offered a three-year contract with the Dodgers
1995 Suffers knee injury taking him out of the game
1995 Becomes first Dodger to hit more than twenty home runs in each of first three seasons
1998 Traded to the Florida Marlins
1998 Traded to the New York Mets
Mike Piazza - Chronology [next]

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