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Mike Piazza: A 'Hall of Famer' in NYC, anyhow

Mike Piazza: Whether the best slugging catcher in baseball history ever makes it to Cooperstown is unclear, but New York's National League fans celebrated Mike Piazza's career in Mets pinstripes during the season's finale.

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Former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza shows the ball to Mets catcher David Wright before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in the Mets game against the Milwaukee Brewers following a ceremony inducting Piazza into the Mets Hall of Fame, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in New York.

KATHY WILLENS/AP

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Mike Piazza was never one to hide his emotions.

The former New York Mets slugger wiped away tears and his voice quavered Sunday as he addressed a near-capacity crowd at Citi Field, where Piazza was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame.

"This is the first time that I'm speechless," he said. "What an amazing reception. What an amazing run we had and are still having. Thank you."

With his family and other ex-Mets seated nearby, Piazza was honored during a 30-minute ceremony before the season finale against Milwaukee. He became the 27th member of the club's Hall of Fame, joining baseball luminaries like Tom Seaver, Casey Stengel, and Gary Carter.

Piazza hit 220 of his 427 home runs for the Mets from 1998 to 2005 and led them to a pair of playoff appearances, including the 2000 World Series. His 396 homers as a catcher are the most in major league history.

"I can't really express how grateful I am," Piazza said at a news conference before the ceremony. "Just an amazing journey, really."

Acquired from the Marlins in May 1998 only eight days after the Los Angeles Dodgers traded him to Florida, Piazza made seven of his 12 All-Star games with the Mets. He owns the highest slugging percentage in franchise history (.542) and ranks third in homers and RBIs (655).

"You run the gauntlet here. This is not easy," Piazza said. "To play here and to do well here and to win here is something really special."

Perhaps his most memorable moment was a majestic home run at Shea Stadium on Sept. 21, 2001, in the first major New York City sporting event after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Piazza's go-ahead drive in the eighth inning against Atlanta sent the crowd into a frenzy on an emotional night, with cameras capturing the poignant joy on faces of firefighters, police officers and other uniformed rescue workers throughout the stands.

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