By now, everyone knows the story: Mike Piazza gets drafted in the 62nd round, and then goes on to become the greatest hitting catcher of all time. For years, many believed he was drafted as a favor to Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda, who was a long time friend to Mike’s father, Vince Piazza. But as it turns out, the reason Piazza got drafted at all was due to a simple misunderstanding.
“Sure, Vinny and I were friends,” said Lasorda, “but I wasn’t about put my career on the line for his son.” The former Dodger manager elaborates, “Mike was a good kid, but man was he unathletic and he had a terrible arm. Plus, I think he may have been playing for the other team, if you know what I mean. The only reason we ended up with him was because I was hungry and the people who ran our draft were idiots.”
A former Dodgers scout, who preferred to remain anonymous, recalls that day in 1988. “It was the end of the draft, and we were all at our wit’s end. In the 62nd round we were deciding between a high school pitcher from California or a college outfielder from Pennsylvania, when Tommy just stood up and said: ‘Look, it’s the 62nd round, I’m starving, and I’ve eaten nothing but Slimfast shakes for the last three weeks. I don’t care what you do, just somebody get me a God damn pizza.’
The scout continued, “Now, no one ever really paid attention to Tommy because he was always saying crazy things, so the only thing anyone heard was the word pizza. We knew he never ate solid foods, so we just assumed he must have been talking about his good friend’s son, Mike Piazza, and we picked him. Boy was Tommy ticked.”
“Of course I was mad,” said Lasorda. “First they tell me that we drafted that sissy armed catcher Mike Piazza, then they tell me that no one ordered my pizza. You ever had a Slimfast shake? Those things taste like (expletive).”
When asked if he thought Piazza, a future Hall of Famer, knew the true story of how he was drafted, Lasorda laughed, “I doubt it. The poor guy still doesn’t even know he’s gay.”