The same legendary commitment to hard work that forged the foundation of Phoenixville also strengthened young Mike Piazza, a man born to play baseball who picked out the fastest route to success and worked his way to the major leagues and now Cooperstown.
“He outworked everybody,” fellow Phoenixville player Jim Johns said in a New York Daily News feature by Evan Grossman. “I’ll tell you what: This guy just hit, hit, and when everybody else was done hitting, he hit some more. There’s just no way of getting around how hard he worked.”
Piazza, a 1986 graduate of Phoenixville High School, was just inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To get there, he altered his swing to hit right-field homers and switched from first base to catcher to maximize his odds of making the big leagues. Then he simply worked harder than anyone else.
“I heard that he used to hit 100 baseballs a day, 365 days a year, and if it was too cold out, he would bake the baseballs in his mom’s oven just so they wouldn’t sting his hands with the bat,” cousin Frank Nattle said in the article.
Piazza’s entry into Cooperstown validates not only all that hard work but also the hard-working culture he grew up in.
“It means that all the guys before us did the right thing and taught Mike the right way,” Johns said. “It just proves they were doing the right thing back in the day.”
And it’s yet another symbol of Phoenixville’s rise from the ashes of its steel heritage.
“Phoenixville is a town that was originally built on hard work, was reimagined with hard work, and a community that’s been reborn with hard work,” Grossman wrote. “The same kind of hard work that made Mike Piazza a Hall of Famer.”
Read more about Piazza’s beginnings in the New York Daily News here.