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Doubleday, Not Wilpon, Approved Piazza Contract

By Mike Silva ~ February 16th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, NY Baseball Memories.

On Sunday, Newsday sports reporter Jim Baumbach joined me on 1240 AM WGBB.

Last week, Baumbach caught up with former Mets owner/co-owner Nelson Doubleday. In 2003, Doubleday had some harsh words for the Wilpon’s when he sold his 50% share. He was far more sensitive (subscription required) when speaking with Baumbach last week.

Something that didn’t make the Newsday article was Doubleday telling Baumbach the it was he, not Fred Wilpon, that gave approval for Mike Piazza‘s 7 year/$91 million dollar deal in 1998. Wilpon actually was told after the fact.

If I remember correctly, the Mets played “hardball” with Piazza telling him if they didn’t sign him during the two week exclusive window they would withdraw their offer for good. Many believed Piazza was not “a New York type of guy” and was headed to Anaheim or Baltimore. A dramatic end to the ’98 season where he hit .378 in September probably helped the cause as the fans booed Piazza throughout the summer as he slumped after the May trade.

No one suggested that Fred Wilpon wouldn’t have agreed to the Piazza deal, but perhaps he would not have been so quick to give out that type of contract. Earlier in the decade a similar type of splash resulted in the “worst team money could buy.” The Mets traded free agency like the plague, and didn’t seriously get back into the game until that offseason. Al Leiter, acquired for A.J. Burnett the prior year, also signed an extension during that period of time.

Piazza would be the face of the franchise for the next seven years. Without Nelson Doubleday he never have been acquired that May. It looks like he may also never have resigned with the organization as well.

To listen to Baumbach on 1240 AM WGBB you can download the replay here and fast forward to the 26 minute mark

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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2 Responses to Doubleday, Not Wilpon, Approved Piazza Contract

  1. Will in Central NJ

    One can’t help but wonder what would have been if Nelson Doubleday, and not Fred Wilpon, inserted that hidden Trojan Horse contractual clause fully empowering the latter to buy out the former regarding the Mets. In hindsight, it seems Mr. Doubleday was less involved, day-to-day, but when he acted, as in the Piazza acquisition, it was game-changing.

  2. Edgy DC

    That this narrative persists is frustrating.

    Can we criticize Wilpon based on facts on hand instead of making a strawman champion of Nelson Doubleday?

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