This is a special bonus episode we produced to celebrate Mike Piazza’s induction into the Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Fame, which is happening today, July 24, 2016. Most of the content in this episode was recorded at The National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) New York City Gala this past April, including our interview with Mike Piazza, as well as his moving honoree acceptance speech. We have also included a fun segment at the end of the episode where we talk to some passionate Italian-American Met fans about what Mike Piazza means to them.
One of the reasons we wanted to publish this special episode is because Mike Piazza is extremely proud of his Italian-American heritage; he often speaks publicly about it, which we think really inspires young Italian Americans to engage with their Italian backgrounds.
In this episode, you will first hear a one-on-one interview we did with Mike Piazza. If you are not familiar with Piazza, he is a former professional baseball catcher who played 16 seasons in the MLB, from 1992–2007. He played most notably for the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, while also having brief stints with the other teams. Piazza was a 12-time All-Star and 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner at catcher, producing strong offensive numbers at his position; in his career, he recorded 427 home runs—a record 396 of which were hit as catcher—along with a .308 batting average and 1,335 runs batted in (RBIs). He was drafted very low as a favor to his father’s friend Tommy Lasorda, but like many Italian Americans, through dedication and industriousness, he worked his way up quickly.
You will also hear the acceptance speech Piazza gave when receiving NIAF’s Special Achievement Award in Sports, where he not only talks about his Italian upbringing, but why we as a community all stand beside him as he’s inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame.
In our Story Segment, we have a fun conversation with three Italian-American Met fans – Drew Taranto, Nick Ferraro, and Michael Bozzone – about Piazza, how his Italian heritage shaped him and contributed to his success, and why he is as beloved for his character as much as his athleticism. We talk about his career and the momentousness of his induction through the lens of our shared Italian-American heritage and community.
Italian saying – “La famiglia é tutto.” The family is everything.
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Anthony Fasano and Dolores Alfieri
Co-Hosts, The Italian American Podcast