Monday, June 2, 2008

Thanks, Mike Piazza

Former catcher Mike Piazza retired a couple of weeks ago. He's widely regarded as one of the best hitting catchers of all time, but I'll alway remember him for another reason.

My dad was a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan. He grew up in northern New Jersey when they were still the Brooklyn Dodgers, and after the team moved to California he continued to follow them.

When Danelle and I moved to Dallas in 1992 I started to follow the Texas Rangers. They had a good young catcher named Ivan Rodriguez. Piazza came up late that same season with the Dodgers, then in 1993 he went on to win Rookie of the Year in his first full season.

Neither my dad nor I could resist a good sports debate, so we'd regularly argue which of the two was better. Like most sports debates, there was almost no way to really decide on a winner. Piazza was a great hitter, especially for power, while Rodriguez was tremendous defensively and excelled at throwing out would-be base stealers.

The debate never grew old, even after we left Dallas and moved to Denver in 1997. Then my dad passed away from a heart attack in the spring of 1998.

A few months later I was driving to work when I heard on the radio that the Dodgers had traded Piazza to the Florida Marlins. The first thing that crossed my mind was how I needed to call my dad and ask him how great he thought Piazza was NOW. The mighty Dodgers didn't even want him any more! Finally, an edge in the great debate!

Then I remembered that I couldn't do that.

I knew my dad was dead, of course. I wasn't in any sort of denial or anything. But right then was when it really hit me.

So good luck with whatever else life holds for you, Mike Piazza. And thanks for always making me think of my dad. :)

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