One of the greatest offensive catchers ever to play in the MLB, Mike Piazza, was the latest guest of the Sheen Center’s “Faith: The Competitive Edge” series. The Hall of Famer spoke about his Catholic faith and the role it played in his life both on and off the field.
Catholic New York reports that Piazza began the discussion by recalling the many gifts he attributes to his faith. Speaking to series host 1988 U.S. Olympian Leslie Maxie, Piazza noted that his faith has equipped him with patience and perseverance:
“One of the things for me is to relay the message how important my faith was to me growing up, in the development of my career, and the gifts it gave me, the patience it gave me and the perseverance it gave me. And just to tell them life is full of challenges and difficulties and hurdles, but we always have to try to reach down deep to what we believe and trust that God has us.”
The 12-time All-Star went on to note that it is important for the faithful to trust in God’s designs:
“There is always a plan, even though it may not be the plan we wish for, but to try to trust, let go and believe.”
Piazza’s baseball career is one that any aspiring major leaguer would hope to achieve. Beginning as the National League Rookie of the Year, he blossomed into a powerhouse hitter who retired with a career average of .308, hitting 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI’s in his 16 years of play.
He is still a beloved figure in New York, especially by Mets fans who enjoyed his prodigious bat for the majority of his career. Be they Mets fans or Yankees fans, however, no New Yorker will ever forget the time Piazza hit a game-winning 2-run home run against the Atlanta Braves, during the first game played in the city after 9/11.
The hit was powerful, both physically and metaphorically, as it gave New Yorkers a reason to celebrate and enjoy a moment of normality after the terror attack. When Piazza made the famous hit, Ground Zero was still smoldering just miles away. Piazza said of the home run:
“I believe that God put wind underneath my wings and helped me through that night, and obviously I was in the right place at the right time,” he said.
As Piazza and Maxie’s conversation turned towards his family, the ballplayer noted the importance of instilling his Catholic faith in his kids. Piazza has three children with his wife Alicia Rickter: Marco, Nicoletta and Paulina. He said of sharing his faith with his family:
“It’s something I’ve tried to impose on my children and raise them in the faith,” Piazza said. “It’s one of the obligations we have to educate and bring up the next generation with those beliefs, knowing we’re far from perfect and we make mistakes, but there is a trusting and loving God that will be there to forgive us.”
Visit Catholic New York to read the full account of Mike Piazza’s talk at the Sheen Center’s “Faith: The Competitive Edge” series.