Piazza gains in voting, still falls short of Hall of Fame
Mets great receives 69.9 percent of votes; Martinez enters in first year on ballot
NEW YORK -- These days, Mike Piazza refers to himself as an artist, noting that his job is not to critique his own work. Others have labeled him the greatest offensive catcher in history. But to date, even that superlative has not swayed enough writers with Hall of Fame votes.
For another year, Piazza's wait will continue. In his third appearance on the ballot, according to totals released Tuesday by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Piazza received 69.9 percent of the vote -- 28 votes shy of the 75 percent needed for induction. And so for the third summer in a row, he will watch the Hall of Fame induction ceremony from afar, this time as Randy Johnson (97.3 percent), Pedro Martinez (91.1 percent), John Smoltz (82.9 percent) and Craig Biggio (82.7 percent) take their places in Cooperstown.
"Sincere Congrats to #HOF2015 class!" Piazza wrote on Twitter shortly after the announcement. "An Amazing Class! Special Thanks To the Voters!! Very Emotional Thank You to All Fans for the Support."
Sincere Congrats to #HOF2015 class! An Amazing Class! Special Thanks To the Voters!! Very Emotional Thank You to All Fans for the Support.- Mike Piazza (@mikepiazza31) January 6, 2015
Finishing his career with a .308 batting average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs, Piazza established himself as an offensive standout regardless of defensive position, yet put up most of those numbers at the most demanding spot on the diamond. He slugged .545 for his career, the 32nd-highest mark of anyone in history, and he reached base nearly 38 percent of the time.
Piazza also hit 396 of his homers as a catcher, the most in big league history, appearing behind the plate in 85 percent of his games.
"I can only say that there's been a lot of great players throughout history that have had to wait their turn," Piazza said last month. "Joe DiMaggio had three ballots. Yogi Berra had three ballots. And that's part of the process.
"For me, it's not really my place, I feel, to start campaigning. I can only say that I'm proud of my work and I'm proud of my career. I'll put my numbers against a lot of players in history, and I feel that's all I can do."
Coming to New York in a blockbuster trade in 1998, just one week after the Dodgers dealt him to the Marlins, Piazza quickly fashioned his new team into a legitimate contender. He fueled the Mets' World Series run in 2000, hit one of his most memorable home runs in the Mets' first home game after Sept. 11, 2001, and was in Flushing when he set the all-time homer mark for catchers. Piazza finished off his career with stints in Oakland and San Diego, also appearing in five games for the Marlins in '98.
None of it has been enough for Hall of Fame voters, who have taken hard lines with many of those who played in the 1990s and early 2000s -- regardless of whether they tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs or never did. In his first year of eligibility, Piazza finished with 57.8 percent of the vote. He jumped up to 62.2 percent last year, still well short of the 75 percent required for admission.
The Mets on Tuesday did receive one Cooperstown inductee in Martinez, who played for them from 2005-08 -- though Martinez, far better known for his success in Boston, will go into the Hall wearing a Red Sox cap. Jeff Kent, who spent five seasons of a 19-year career in Flushing, received 14 percent of the vote, enough to remain on the ballot. Other former Mets, including Gary Sheffield (11.7 percent) and Carlos Delgado (3.8 percent), fell well shy of induction.
"We are confident that in the not-too-distant future, Mike Piazza, the top offensive catcher in the history of baseball, will take his rightful place in the halls of Cooperstown," Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. "We look forward to celebrating that day with him, his family, and our fans when it happens."