Trying to Get Piazza’s Autograph
Over at Brew and Orange, they are doing a giveaway for the person who has the best Mike Piazza story. Since the giveaway includes Rheingold beer accessories, which was once the beer of the Mets and my grandfather’s beer of choice, I’m interested. I suggest you go to his site and so your own submission. This is mine.
Back in 2013, my wife was pregnant with our son. At that time, I was already planning on how to make him a Mets fan. We ordered him a knit Mets cap. When I talked to him, I would read books, and of course, I would tell him about the Mets because, well, I have problems. No one believes me, except my wife who was obviously there for this, but I would say, “Lets Go Mets!” and he would kick back three times in the same rhythmic pattern. I digress.
In 2013, the Mets also hosted the All Star Game. For various reasons, my family only went to All Star Sunday, which is the Future’s Game and the All Star Legends and Celebrity All Star Game. My wife suggested we take one of the several Mets onesies we had to get it autographed for the baby. I thought it was a great idea because I would be seeing future Met All Stars like Noah Syndergaard as well as former Met greats like Mike Piazza.
Now, at the time I did work with a guy who used to play minor league ball. In fact, he had a cup of coffee in the majors. He refers to himself as the modern day Moonlight Graham because while he got to play one game, he never got an at bat. The strike happened, and his career was over. This guy told me he played on the same minor league team as Mike Piazza, and he knew him. When I told him my plan, he said he would reach out to him, and he would work to get me that autograph for my son. He eventually told me that I should go meet Piazza by the home dugout after the softball game was over to get my autograph.
With the Future’s Game and Softball Game, I tried to get the onesie signed with no luck. I was alright with that because Piazza was the prize, and I knew exactly when and where to meet him. After the game was over, I made my way down to the home dugout area.
Initially, there was no sight of Piazza. Then again, the area was flooded with people interviewing Kevin James, who was the MVP of the game. No one was really signing anything at the time except him. I just waited there for when Piazza was going to come out and give autographs. I was standing at the exact place and location I was told to stand. I waited and waited and stubbornly waited. Then it happened! Piazza emerged from the home dugout . . . and he immediately made a beeline to the visitor’s dugout area.
I thought this can’t be happening. Something must’ve been lost in translation. Mike Piazza was going to be there looking for me, and I wasn’t going to be there. I was going to miss out on getting an autograph for my son. I then did what every parent does when they are trying to get something for their child. They act quickly and somewhat irrationally. I started jumping the walls that separate each section to get over to Piazza as quickly as possible.
Keep in mind that as I’m doing this there is literally almost no one left at Citi Field. An usher half my size (I’m between 6’5″ – 6’7″ depending on the 7-11) grabs my arm and begins screaming at me. There was some nonsense about respecting Citi Field and how I’m acting like a hoodlum. I exchanged pleasantries as well, but I made sure not to respond physically.
The guy “ushered” me to the stop of the section and turned me over to police explaining the situation. Before I could get a word in edgewise, the police said they saw the whole thing. They mocked the usher and told him to stop bothering me. I explained to the police what I was trying to do, and I sought their help. They told me they couldn’t help and told me I should probably just head home. I was undeterred. I began running all the way to the other side of Citi Field.
By the way, I’m really slow. Almost embarrassingly so. While Piazza might’ve still be there during the hoopla with the usher, he most certainly was not there when I got over there. I went into one of the nearest suites to stand in the air conditioning for a second. Standing there was my brother who actually thought I was fleeing police and security . . . as if that was possible. While I was a free man, I didn’t have Piazza’s autograph.
I went to work the next day, and I apologized to the guy who set everything up. He then began laughing hysterically. He then explained that he did hang out with Piazza a few times in the minors, but he never reached out to him. He had no idea how. I was baffled. I asked him why did he concoct that whe scenario. His response was basically that he figured if Piazza was signing anything, he would do it there. He also figured if Piazza didn’t sign anything he would just say something came up like it does all the time.
Fortunately, I was able to get Mets to sign the onesie and other items for my son. I have a framed Darryl Strawberry jersey (that’s another story) for him. What I don’t have is a Mike Piazza autograph. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get a chance again.
Overall, all of my chances were ushered out the door in July 2013.