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Mets change spring address to honor Piazza

January 16, 2020

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Thursday morning outside of what will soon be formerly known as First Data Field -- and officially called Clover Park next month -- it was all about New York Mets Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza. The Mets dedicated a short stretch of road -- from

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Thursday morning outside of what will soon be formerly known as First Data Field -- and officially called Clover Park next month -- it was all about New York Mets Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza.

The Mets dedicated a short stretch of road -- from the parking lot running to the stadium -- to the catcher, dubbing it 31 Piazza Drive. The 2016 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee then hopped in a Ford Mustang and drove the length of the newly paved road and back.

Piazza, 51, was momentarily overwhelmed with emotion upon the unveiling, mentioning the strong bond he has with his father, Vince.

“What a tremendous honor, especially being a resident of Florida the last 30 years,” said Piazza, who teared up briefly during his speech when recalling his father.

Santa Lucia, the namesake of St. Lucie County, came from Syracuse in Sicily, the homeland of the Piazza family.

“I wish he was here today to see this, because he’s been such an inspiration in my career," Piazza said. "He’s not doing well health-wise ... but he called me this morning and wanted to wish me the best."

Piazza made many memories at New York’s Spring Training complex, including a noteworthy brawl with Dodgers pitcher Guillermo Mota when the hurler plunked him in the shoulder in a night game during Spring Training in 2003.

Mota had also hit Piazza at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., the previous season, also creating friction between the two. Piazza stormed into the Los Angeles clubhouse on the first-base side and demanded to know where Mota was, but the Hall of Famer said the visit to Florida’s Treasure Coast in February and March was usually a peaceful time.

“There are a lot of memories, but I generally remember as fun and interactive as it was for the fans, it was also reclusive," Piazza said. "You could go out to a field and prepare for the season and really collect yourself in your thoughts and work with the staff. Here in the beautiful Florida sun ... just generally the vibe of the area. It’s really a fun place to come.”

The complex’s main stadium will be renamed Clover Park next month, a result of Fiserv's 2019 acquisition of First Data. Along with the naming change, a year-long $57 million renovation project is expected to be completed by the time New York’s pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 10.