Mike Piazza had 2,127 hits -- including 427 home runs -- during his 16-year career. One of the them is more memorable than all the others produced by the soon-to-be Hall of Fame catcher.
The Big Apple and entire country was reeling after the treacherous attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
Everything stopped after the attack, sports and baseball included.
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When the season resumed, Piazza and his Mets returned home for an emotionally charged evening against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 21.
"Forty, maybe fifty-thousand people here, and the wound was so open," Rose said in 2014. "The bleeding hadn't stopped. It hadn't even begun to scab. Who the hell knew what was gonna happen when 40-something-thousand people got together in one place? That was scary. That was intimidating."
The Mets entered the evening 5 1/2 games behind the Braves. It appeared as if the gap was going to grow. Until an at-bat in the eighth inning that became iconic for a catcher, franchise and sport.
Per Rose and the News:
The cracking sound Piazza's bat made when he swung at the next pitch was like a champagne cork popping off, freeing the bottled-up emotion throughout the stadium, which was embodied in Rose's call. "And it's hit deep to left-center, Andrew Jones on the run, this one has a chance! Home run, Mike Piazza! And the Mets lead three to two!" Rose gazed at the frenzied crowd as Piazza jogged around the bases, the energy of 41,235 fans giving him a jolt as (Fran) Healy soon after said, "This place exploded! It's been waiting to explode all night," his not-so-subtle way of ignoring the plea of the television executives. It wasn't until Robin Ventura's at-bat, though, that everything sunk in for Rose. After a called second strike to Ventura, award-winning director for baseball broadcasts Bill Webb called for a shot of a group of firemen in their dress uniforms, still marveling at Piazza's homer. Rose studied the scene. He calls it one of the most poignant shots he's ever seen on a baseball broadcast ... "Everything hit me at once. I said, 'Holy mackerel,'" he said. "I sort of zeroed in on who they were. I didn't know them, but I said, 'What's their life been like for the last 10 days?' They have in all likelihood lost friends, comrades, God forbid family, but here they are at a baseball game finding an escape for however fleeting a moment it was."
The Braves' pitcher was Steve Karsay, who grew up not far from Shea Stadium in Queens and attended Christ the King High School. The meaning of the night hit home.
In 2011, Karsay, who was on the losing end of the 3-2 score, recalled: "If there was any game in my career that I had to lose or take the loss, that's the one I would have wanted it to happen. I don't think you could portray it any better than how that situation occurred."