New York Mets Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza spoke on Tuesday about the club auctioning a jersey he wore in a game on September 21, 2001, mere days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The New York Post's Kevin Kernan passed along Piazza's comments on the controversial merchandise situation:
I'm very disappointed with the situation regarding my game jersey from September 21st, 2001. 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.
A Mets spokesperson responded to Piazza's comments, per Kernan:
We made a mistake in selling the jersey and Jeff 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.
Kernan indicated that Piazza didn't speak out initially so as not to detract focus from the Mets' 2016 regular-season opener on Sunday—a World Series rematch with the Kansas City Royals, who won 4-3.
In the 2001 game that Piazza wore the No. 31 jersey, he hit a late go-ahead home run to spark a 3-2 Mets victory over the Atlanta Braves. The homer led to a "USA!" chant at Shea Stadium and a moment in New York sports lore that won't be forgotten.
"For me to be at the right place and the right time and to come through, I can only think it comes from above and a lot of people put wind under my wings," said Piazza of his timely home run after getting inducted into the Hall of Fame in January, per Kernan.
The jersey features an embroidered logo reading "9-11-01" and American flags. Bidding on the jersey began online on Monday, with the current amount, per Kernan, set at $42,000.
According to Kernan, Piazza wants the jersey on display at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Given the extraordinary circumstances and the emotion behind perhaps the most significant of Piazza's 427 career homers, it's well worthy of a place in such high baseball esteem.
It stands to reason, based on the public comments Piazza has made and the perspective he's provided about the situation, that the jersey will wind up where he feels it belongs.
There is still time to put a halt to the auction. Per the report, it runs until April 30 and concludes with a live event.