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On top of the world: Piazza a true New Yorker

In visit to Empire State Building, Hall of Famer 'euphoric' in reflecting on bond with city
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza gazed south over Midtown Manhattan, the Flatiron Building, 40 Wall Street, One World Trade Center, an unseasonably bright sun glinting off all of it.

"You can never get tired of this view," Piazza said.

NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza gazed south over Midtown Manhattan, the Flatiron Building, 40 Wall Street, One World Trade Center, an unseasonably bright sun glinting off all of it.

"You can never get tired of this view," Piazza said.

Photo gallery: Piazza visits Empire State Building

:: Griffey, Piazza make Hall of Fame ::

He stepped back from the Empire State Building's southern railing, a Hall of Fame jersey draped on his shoulders and matching cap atop his head. This was just one memorable moment for Piazza in a week full of them, beginning with the phone call Wednesday that offered him a spot in Cooperstown. A day later, there was the Hall of Fame news conference, a blur of interviews and photo opps. And now this: a chance to reflect upon the city that oversaw Piazza's transformation from All-Star to Hall of Famer.

There was never any doubt Piazza would enter the Hall with a Mets cap on his plaque, the catcher has repeatedly said, because of his personal bond with New York City. Yet it was not always this way.

At the time, when Piazza was traded here in 1998, there was mutual uncertainty, a feeling-out period between the catcher and the city. Piazza, who grew up a Dodger and kept a close relationship with Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgertown family, was hardly sure borough life was for him. Many Mets fans in turn viewed him as a hired gun, ready to bolt as soon as free agency hit.

But Piazza didn't bolt. He stayed, signing a seven-year deal with the Mets that made him a National League pennant winner in 2000, and a civic hero in '01, when he blasted a game-winning homer against the Braves in the city's first major sporting event after Sept. 11.

That is the memory that Piazza continually harkens back to when asked about his love for this adopted town.

Video: 9/21/01: Mike Piazza's dramatic post-9/11 home run

"When these fans really take you into their family, you become family," Piazza said. "That's part of the fabric here, the culture. Especially the sports in New York, the passion of the fans here -- as a player, it can really be a lot of pressure. Some guys don't respond well to it, or you can use it as a catalyst to help you get better. For me, it was the latter."

In sum, Piazza spent only seven and a half seasons of his 16-year Hall of Fame career in New York. But it was enough to know that he was, is and forever will be a New Yorker.

Video: Piazza thankful, chooses Mets hat for Hall of Fame

"Euphoric," was how Piazza described his emotions Friday atop the Empire State Building. "I can't explain and express how grateful I am and honored I am to be a Hall of Famer as a New York Met. It's truly an American success story. You can dream, and if you work hard and pay the price, you can achieve good things -- great things. I've just been very fortunate, especially coming to New York here and what this town is all about."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

New York Mets