07/04/2004 7:00 PM ET
Mets battery bound for Houston
Glavine, Piazza return to All-Star Game
By Kevin Czerwinski / MLB.com
|Mike Piazza and Tom Glavine have been selected to a combined 20 All-Star Games. (Evan Vucci/AP)
NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza found himself in a familiar position Sunday after being told he was going to have to give up a summer vacation.
That's okay, though. The slugger has had to go without a July break before and will be glad to give up those days off again after being voted as the National League's starting catcher for the July 13 All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park in Houston. It marked the 11th time Piazza has earned a trip to the Midsummer Classic and his first since 2002.
But Piazza won't be traveling to the Lone Star State alone. Batterymate Tom Glavine, who leads the Major Leagues with a 2.16 ERA, was chosen by Florida manager Jack McKeon, marking the ninth time he has been tabbed an All-Star.
Piazza received 2,296,667 votes, nearly 800,000 more than runner-up Brad Ausmus. He and Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez also matched Johnny Bench's Major League mark for 10 elections as a starting catcher. In addition, Piazza also passed Carlton Fisk as the all-time votegetter among catchers. He now was 23,381,226 to Fisk's 22,710,613.
Piazza's selection by the fans signals the completion of his comeback from a lost 2003 season. He missed most of last year after severely tearing his groin in May and was not chosen for Midsummer Classic for the first time in his career. But he has returned with a vengeance this season, hitting .309 with 16 homers and 40 RBIs.
"Obviously, I'm honored," Piazza said. "It's something I've always enjoyed. And as long as I'm asked, I'll keep going, especially after missing last year. I never took the game for granted, but I definitely missed it last year.
"After being hurt, it was great that the fans didn't forget about me. It's the fans' game and I'm honored that they chose me."
He became the game's greatest home run-hitting catcher on May 5, smacking his 352nd round tripper as a backstop against San Francisco. Piazza was the top vote getter on three separate occasions, in 1996, 1997 and 2000. He didn't play in the 2000 contest in Atlanta, though, because he was recovering from getting hit in the head with a pitch just three days earlier.
Piazza was named as the game's MVP in '96, taking the honors in his hometown of Philadelphia after going 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs at Veterans Stadium.
Glavine, meanwhile, received a huge push from Mets manager Art Howe, who called McKeon on Thursday to stump for his ace.
"I gave Jack the sales pitch and the reasons he should be on the team," Howe said. "To be honest, he agreed."
The veteran southpaw is 7-5, but lack of run support has cost him several victories this season. McKeon recognized that and had no problem choosing Glavine. In fact, according to Baseball Prospectus, Glavine is the top-ranked starter in the National League because he should have nearly four more wins based on the league's average run support.
"I'm not going to say that there isn't a certain amount of vindication in it," said Glavine, who is 0-1 in the All-Star Game, having lost in San Diego in 1992. "You don't just go out here though to have a good season for the All-Star Game or for vindication. But if you get some along the way, that's great.
"I'm pitching now the way everyone thought I was capable of when I came here. You don't want to take anything for granted until I heard I was on the team. And now I'm thrilled about it. It should be a fun time."
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.