Great news on the 9/11 Mike Piazza jersey flap. Thanks to the efforts of three huge Mets fans, the jersey will soon be back in New York where it belongs.
According to Kevin Kernan of the NY Post, Anthony Scaramucci, Tony Lauto and an anonymous third business partner, came to an agreement in principle Thursday to buy the jersey for approximately $355,000, making it the most expensive modern-day jersey.
The three of them told The Post that they worked hard to set up the deal so the jersey can spend time at Citi Field, as well as the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
“We had too many friends die in those buildings to let that jersey go anywhere else,” Scaramucci said. “Tony and I wanted to make sure that jersey stays in New York. We talked to Mike, he’s happy. We talked to Mike’s father, Vince, he’s happy.”
Kernan adds that the Mets made no attempt to buy back the jersey, after selling it for a small profit three years ago.
Not for nothing, but the Wilpons need to do something for these three generous fans. And I’m not talking about inviting them to visit a batting practice and meeting Mr. Met.
It’s great to have a happy ending to this. That jersey meant so much to Met fans and New York City, but also many veterans, active duty military and first responders.
According to a report by Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, Mike Piazza is “very disappointed” after learning the jersey he wore when hitting his epic home run on Sept. 21, 2001, is being sold in an online auction that began on Monday.
Piazza, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, expressed his feelings to Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, telling him that the jersey 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,” Piazza said. “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.”
A Mets spokesperson issued the following statement to the Post:
“We made a mistake in selling the jersey and Jeff called Mike to express our regret in so doing,’’ the spokesperson said. “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.”
The iconic jersey could become the most valuable in memorabilia history, and Piazza is furious the Mets let it go. He says that the jersey belonged to the fans and to the people and to New York.
Original Report – April 1
Mets fans will always remember the game against the Atlanta Braves on September 21, 2001. It was the first home game in New York since the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11th, and was a game that gave New Yorkers something to cheer about, even for just one night.
With the Mets trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Edgardo Alfonzo drew a one-out walk against set-up man Steve Karsay. Alfonzo was lifted for a pinch runner, Desi Relaford, who was the tying run. A mistake by Karsay, for now he had to face the fiercest hitter in the Mets lineup, Mike Piazza.
Piazza took the first pitch, a 97 mile-per-hour fastball on the outside part of the plate for strike one. Karsay knew the scouting report on Piazza was to keep the ball away, hoping to keep Piazza from turning on a pitch and pulling it to leftfield.
Catcher Javy Lopez was calling for the pitch to be away, setting up well to the right of the right-handed Piazza. Karsay threw his second pitch, which got just enough of the plate for Piazza to drive to centerfield for a go-ahead two-run home run.
Shea Stadium went nuts, fans jumping up and down, hugging each other, chanting “U.S.A”. The home run offered a temporary relief to those in attendance, allowing fans to embrace the moment. The Mets would go on to win that game 3-2, sending fans home smiling and excited, during the toughest of times.
The very jersey Piazza wore to put the Mets ahead in the eighth is being auctioned off in April by Goldin Auctions. Starting Monday April 3, fans will have a chance to bid online for the iconic piece of memorabilia. The auction concludes on April 30 with a live event in New York.
The white home jersey has an American flag on the back collar, “9-11-01” stitched on the right sleeve, and is signed by the newly elected Hall of Famer.
Piazza spoke about the home run and what it meant to him in January, one day after he got the call to the Hall of Fame.
“It’s tough because I get emotional thinking back at that week,” Piazza said. “I mean, anybody knows who was there, it’s something you can’t define. It changed all of our lives, not at a baseball level, but personally for me. I mean, it really put my life in perspective and focused what the important things in life are, and that’s family and friends and relationships.”
Ken Goldin, founder and president of Goldin Auctions based in New Jersey, says that his cosigner bought the jersey from the Mets in a private auction held about three years ago. I find it odd that the Mets would sell off a piece of memorabilia that has so much meaning behind it. That moment brought fans back to baseball, allowing those who might have been afraid to laugh and enjoy themselves during a time where the nation was seemingly on high alert each day, to celebrate and enjoy the come from behind victory.
The other piece to the story is who owned the jersey before the cosigner? The cosigner bought this jersey from a private sale with the Mets three years ago, so someone had it in their possession for over ten years. Goldin suspects that the original owner of the Piazza jersey was none other than Charlie Samuels, the longtime Mets clubhouse attendant who pleaded guilty in 2012 to tax fraud and possession of stolen property. It was also reported that Samuels had taken an estimated $2.3 million in Mets memorabilia during his 27-year career with the Amazins.
Goldin Auctions is hoping to set a record sale for a Mets game worn jersey, which is currently held by a 1970 Nolan Ryan jersey, which sold for $53,758 back in 2008.
I believe that this jersey should be displayed at Citi Field or in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The jersey is from an iconic moment not just for New York baseball, but all of the Major Leagues. Some fans feel that Piazza’s home run is a symbol of strength and unity, at a time where Americans needed to feel that after the devastating loss that was felt just ten days earlier.
The New York Daily News spoke with Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, who feels that Piazza’s jersey should be hanging in the museum, as an artifact that will be able to retell the story of what happened during the turbulent time in our history.
“We would have loved to see Piazza’s jersey in Cooperstown,” Idelson said. “Once the games resumed after 9/11, we tried to figure out how to best tell the story of 9/11. Mike Piazza’s (game-winning) home run was a big part of that night. We think we have artifacts and items that reflect the story so that people who come 50 years, 100 years from now will have an understanding.”
While the Hall does have pieces of equipment from that night including a FDNY hat worn by John Franco, and a NYPD hat worn by then manager Bobby Valentine. However, Piazza’s home run is the lasting image in many fans minds, and having something personal of his to showcase at the museum, and in a year where Piazza finally got the call to Cooperstown, would’ve been an ideal situation.
One can only hope that the person that purchases the jersey in the April auction will donate the jersey to showcase either at Citi Field or in the Hall of Fame, so it can serve its true purpose, being a part of Met history and an item of remembrance for Major League Baseball and our country.