May 25, 2011

A Return to Adolescence

Mike Piazza, 1997 Topps

I feel like this card should come with its own musical jingle, which would feature a piano and maybe a saxophone and which would go:

Ninety-six seeeeaason hiiiiiiiiighliiiiiights …

Then, a seductively-voiced narrator, like—who did "Planet Earth?" Sigourney Weaver? Not her. The other one. Yeah, Whoopi Goldberg—Whoopi Goldberg would say the following:

On July 9, 1996 in Philadelphia, Mike Piazza returned to the city of his adolescence as an All Star

I can’t imagine how collectively emotional the entire city of Philadelphia was in welcoming back its native son, who now plays baseball for a team other than the Phillies. They probably yelled, “You’re dead to me, Piazza!” and then had their young sons throw whole cantaloupes at him.

and left a hero.

I went to Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park in 2007 with my buddy Brandon, who grew up in Philly and is a die-hard Phillies fan. While we were waiting for McFadden’s to open, we ended up near the statue of Mike Schmidt that stands tall outside of the stadium. Brandon looked up at it, nodded his head and—probably caught up in the positive vibes of Opening Day and feelings of nostalgia—said, “What a jerkoff.”

Nobody leaves Philadelphia a hero.

The Los Angeles Dodger catcher crashed a monstrous, 445-foot home run


into the upper deck in the second inning, and later added an RBI double in the NL’s 6-0 victory.

I trust that the dramatic red and blue lines leading to the dream montage-style photo of Piazza have adequately captured the raw emotion of this moment. If not, Whoopi—take us home:

Piazza, who played at nearby Phoenixville High School, was moved by the weight of the moment. “I’m really emotional right now,” he said. “I’m all choked up.”

Piazza actually said this to AL shortstop Derek Jeter as he attempted to round second base after he crashed his monstrous home run. Jeter was like, “Are you serious right now?” Piazza then fell to the ground in a puddle of tears, unable to move under the weight of the moment, knowing his former Phys. Ed. teacher at Phoenixville High School, Mr. Bloofendorf, who always believed in him, was in the stands. The PA announcer, as a sarcastic gesture, began playing Mariah Carey’s “Hero,” but when Piazza heard the line, “with the strength to carry on,” he got up, wiped his nose, and continued his emotional trot around the bases. In his head, he imagined the crowd was wildly cheering him on, but everyone was standing in stunned silence.

And with that, it is true: The major highlight of the 1996 baseball season occurred when Mike Piazza hit a home run during a game that didn’t count.

Ninety-six seeeeaason hiiiiiiiiighliiiiiights …

Did you know?
I will know that I have "made it" if, and only if, a huge golden statue of me blogging sits in the front yard of my parent's house in East Brunswick, New Jersey.

1 comment:

Mark Thompson said...

i have seen the highlights of his matches really its a good watch a legend truely