Mike Piazza has made occasional card show appearances as an autograph guest. While not always the most engaging paid signer, it’s kind of an interesting twist on a story from Piazza’s teenage years.
Before he was taken as a favor to his dad from childhood friend Tommy Lasorda in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB Draft, Piazza had a special visitor who happened to be nearby thanks to an autograph signing session where he was one of the most popular guests.
While touring the Baseball Hall of Fame, where he’ll be enshrined this summer, Piazza told the story of the show and Ted Williams (although a reader points out it was actually a different local show).
“He was doing a card show at the George Washington Motor Lodge in King of Prussia,” Piazza said.
A baseball scout who was close with Williams, Joe DiMaggio and other former stars, served as their representatives and the show was one of the regular stops on the circuit.
“He was at the time kind of getting them these gigs, serving as a liason for the promoter, so they would come in and sign.”
On a Saturday morning, prior to his scheduled signing session, Piazza says Williams and the scout were talking.
“He said to Ted, ‘I’ve got a friend Vince whose son is a good looking ballplayer. He’s got a (batting) cage at his house. And Ted said, “Let’s go watch him hit.”
Piazza’s father got ahold of his son and into the driveway they came.
“I don’t remember much, just that intense feeling of panic,” Piazza laughed.
Piazza had a copy of Williams’ famous book ‘The Science of Hitting’ and had the last man to bat .400 sign it for him.
After watching a few swings in that cage, Williams paid the young Piazza quite a compliment.
“He said ‘this kid’s gonna hit in the big leagues’. And I was like ‘really?’ He said ‘oh yeah’. It was euphoric. You can’t even describe a moment like that.”
Even if Williams’ quick analysis didn’t do much to improve Piazza’s draft stock, it turns out he did indeed know a big league hitter when he saw one.