The Mets and Mike Piazza are feuding over his “9/11 jersey”


Following the resumption of baseball in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Mike Piazza hit a home run that anyone who watched still remembers and anyone who didn’t watch has no doubt seen at some point or another. A lot of people call it the “9/11 homer” or the homer from the “post-9/11 Game” or whatever, but the homer — hit on September 21, 2001 — was an exclamation point on an uplifting night in a time of great fear and uncertainty. Heck, he hit the homer off my Braves and I was cheering. It was just that kind of deal. Probably the most memorable thing Piazza ever did in his career.

The jersey Piazza wore during that game is now in the news, as the person who owns it is auctioning it off. Which, hey, why does someone besides Piazza or the Mets or the Hall of Fame own that anyway? The Hall of Fame swoops in and claims the left cleat of the guy who set the day game, west coast stolen base record (post-realignment) and curates the hell out of it for all eternity. How did they not get Piazza’s jersey from the 9/11 Game?

The reason: the Mets sold it to a collector three years ago and now that guy is auctioning it. Mike Piazza is none too pleased about this, by the way:

“I’ve expressed my feelings to Jeff (Wilpon) and the Mets. And while it never should have left Citi Field, they have assured me that contact with the seller has been made and they are making a concerted effort to get the jersey back. I’m hopeful that an agreement can be reached and we can give back to the fans and all New Yorkers a piece of that evening that was more than just a game.’

Meanwhile, Mike’s dad, Vince Piazza, tried to purchase the jersey with the real life auction equivalent of the “Buy it Now” button, but that didn’t go anywhere and he will not engage in open bidding. Read that link, too. Vince is not happy. Nor would I be, frankly.

For their part, the Mets said this:

“We made a mistake in selling the jersey and Jeff [Wilpon] called Mike to express our regret in so doing. We have dedicated a section in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum to celebrate Mike’s achievements and his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and are exploring memorabilia to display in that area. We can’t verify the item being auctioned, but can confirm that our memorabilia group sold a jersey that meets this description, which was not authenticated with respect to game use.”

Mmhmm. That sounds kinda squirrely, actually. That “authentication” piece is strange. MLB and the Hall of Fame authenticate things to within an inch of their lives now, so why Piazza’s jersey wasn’t authenticated in the 12 years the Mets had it I have no idea. I wonder if the Mets are saying that in an effort to cool the bidding a bit — who wants to be the fourth owner of an unauthenticated jersey? — but all memorabilia stuff comes with this kind of weirdness.

My thinking: no one really disputes that this is the jersey, the Mets should fix their mistake by going to the owner, telling him to name his price and to call off the auction. I’m not the most bullish person in the world when it comes to memorabilia, but this thing is genuine history that transcends baseball in ways that other game-worn items don’t. Open the checkbook, Jeff Wilpon. Make this right.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sp

TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”