baseball, Mike Piazza, the blue coach with Italy in his destiny

Entered the Major League Hall of fame, he returned to Italy, his country of origin: he is the head coach of the national team aiming for the European title

Stefano Arcobelli

September 6
– Milano

The coach is the star: indeed a legend. He is the star Mike Piazza, appointed blue manager (in baseball he is the head coach) on November 29, 2019 after the non-Olympic qualification for Tokyo.

SEPT. 11

The greatest receiver-outfielder of the Major League, named among other things Mike in homage to Mike Schmidt, great third base of Philadelphia, is preparing to make his debut on September 12 at the European Championships in Piedmont, one day after the twenty-year anniversary of the collapse of the Towers Twins. The championship resumed after 11 September 2001 with his home run in the first match in New York, bank Mets. “I’ll remember it all my life.”


This time he will not be able to recall that symbolic event with the team that retired his 31 jersey, because Mike will be at the helm of a national team to be relaunched, of which he was the batter coach in the 2010 and 2012 European triumphs, and in the 2013 World Classic, when Mazzieri’s Italy passed the first phase. Now the technical responsibility lies with this diamond showman who viscerally loves Italy, so much so that he moves – with citizenship – to Parma with his wife Alicia Rickter and their children Nicoletta, Paulina and Mike.


Piazza aims to forget the unfortunate experience as director of Reggiana Calcio, to leave a mark on US sport par excellence. When he was appointed head coach, one of the first to know was Tom Lasorda, the historic manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers to whom he owes his success and glory.


It was in fact the histrionic character of Abruzzese origins, who died last January 7, who changed his role taking him from first base to “directing” with beneficial effects on serve (Mike will retire with 396 home runs out of 427 in 16 seasons of Mlb between Dodgers , Mets, San Diego, Oakland, Florida, until his entry into the Hall of Fame in 2016). “Maybe he had some old-fashioned methods, but no one knew how to manage the team like him,” says Piazza. “He inspired us players to get more than we thought we could give, this is his legacy that I’m trying to pass on in my first experience as a manager.”


For which he is ready to give a continental joy to the Italian baseball that has been waiting for him for nine years (in the comparison of the titles, the Netherlands dominates us 23-10). «I’m very happy with this role, especially because we like living here in Italy, it was the right time, I wanted it like a dream. And I am optimistic: we have just started work. There is a lot to do, but I let President Marcon know what I needed, starting with the staff. It takes a lot of discipline to get back to the top: the European Championship even if it’s not easy at home. The level is growing ». Mike is entering the part and discovers that «I like to coach, I have had experience as a coach in the last two European Championships and at the World Classic. I have great memories, but now it is essential to believe in the staff: you can’t do it without the others and the players need to know that they will have the best for the good of the team. In this sense, my career as a player prepared me to believe a lot in hard work and discipline, and I immediately transferred this to my new job: I will always be the first to arrive on the pitch and the last to leave. I have never done things by halves, I will devote all my energy and emotions to do well. I will be the one to inspire others to reach a level higher than what they think “.

Olympic future

Mike doesn’t know if he will train in Mlb. “This is my first step. And then I’m enjoying life in Italy, even if I still have a lot of business and commitments in the US, but if it goes well … ». The pursuit of happiness even for a former champion is to perfectly match his lifestyle with «the Italian one, if I am successful I don’t feel like excluding anything. Now I’m thinking about the short term ». The European and then the World Classic, or the pro World Cup, postponed to 2022: many American players with double passports would like to wear the blue jersey. “But I have to think about making Italian players grow, only they can ensure the future that I am convinced will be bright.” Piazza believes not a little in the Olympic future, another of his goals is to return to Los Angeles for the 2028 Games. «It would be a great honor for me, I am already grateful for the trust received. I would be happy to get the same results as a manager after those as a player, but you have to work hard with a program that combines discipline and passion, calm, determination and the right organization. I’m putting all my enthusiasm into it ».


At the age of 53, the 12-time All Star is as if he wanted to strengthen the pride of father Vincent, who left in the post-war period from Sciacca, Sicily, with only $ 300 and came to have a Ferrari dealership in Philadelphia. The first test of the son, therefore, is the European. To win. At all costs.



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