Mike Piazza's home run for the New York Mets on Sept. 21, 2001 is one of the most iconic moments in American sports history. However, the Hall of Famer will now be tasked with attempting to prevent the United States from winning baseball's biggest tournament.
Piazza announced Wednesday that he's accepted a job as the manager of the Italian National baseball team:
Most notably, he'll lead the team in the 2021 World Baseball Classic, where the United States enters as the defending champions after defeating Puerto Rico in 2017. Given the lack of prominent major league talent that hails from Italy, competing with the heavyweights is likely an unrealistic goal. In four previous tournaments, Italy's seventh-place finish in 2013 is the highest finish they've had in the World Baseball Classic.
This will mark Piazza's first true connection to baseball since he managed Team USA in the 2011 MLB Futures Game. Piazza has been open about his inability to replicate the feeling he had during his playing career. He attempted to get involved in the sporting world again in 2016, when he purchased the Italian soccer team A.C. Reggiana. Ultimately, though, the team went bankrupt under his ownership.
Widely considered to be the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history, Piazza played 16 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, Mets, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics. Across those 16 seasons, Piazza won the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year Award, made 12 All-Star Game appearances and slugged 427 home runs.