Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza will be honored Thursday night at Giando On The Water in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the 2022 Italian American Baseball Foundation Gala.
Piazza, a 12-time all-star and 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, played with five teams during his illustrious Major League career and is one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. After his playing career, Piazza has taken on a role in growing the game internationally.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 MLB Amateur Draft, Piazza found a mentor in former Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda was an ambassador for baseball globally, managing in the Caribbean Winter Leagues and International competitions, most notably capturing gold with Team USA during the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. Lasorda guided Piazza to take a significant role in international baseball, especially in Italy.
Piazza played for Team Italy during the 2006 World Baseball Classic under manager Matt Galante. Italy went 1-2 in that first World Baseball Classic, their only win coming against Australia, while also playing perennial powerhouses in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic during the pool play round of the tournament.
Piazza began his international baseball coaching journey following the end of his playing career in 2007. In 2009, Piazza coached with Team Italy during the World Baseball Classic and Baseball World Cup. The next year, Piazza served as hitting coach and helped Italy win the gold over the Netherlands in the 2010 European Championship. Piazza would manage Italy again during the 2011 Baseball World Cup and capture the gold medal in the 2012 European Championship against the Netherlands and was part of the coaching staff for Italy once again during the 2013 World Baseball Classic under manager Marco Mazzieri. Italy went 2-1 in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, beating Canada and Mexico in pool play and qualifying for the second round. In the second round, the Italians lost one-run games to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Piazza was named Italy’s manager for the World Baseball Classic in 2019 before the tournament was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For that event, now rescheduled for March 2023, Italy has built its team largely with Major League-affiliated players of Italian-American heritage. Several players with Major League experience, including Matthew Festa (P-Seattle Mariners), Nicky Lopez(Shortstop-Kansas City Royals), and Vinny Pasquantino (First Baseman-Kansas City Royals), have committed to playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, which will start the World Baseball Classic in Taichung, Taiwan playing against Panama, Netherlands, Cuba, and Chinese Taipei in pool play of the tournament on March 8-13.