NEW YORK -- Upset that the jersey that former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza wore during the first game back after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is scheduled to be auctioned off, the Piazza family hopes to buy the jersey and donate it to the Hall of Fame.
"My God, it's not right what is going on here," Piazza's father, Vince, told the New York Post. "That thing belongs in the Hall of Fame. It belongs to all the fans of baseball. That home run was so important, not only for New York, but for the entire country. When Mike hit that home run, it lit the whole city up again. The city was dark, and that turned the lights on again. It's a historic home run, and I know how much it means to Mike."
Goldin Auctions plans to auction the jersey on April 30 in New York City, ESPN's Darren Rovell reported last week.
Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin told ESPN that Vince Piazza had someone get in touch with him. Goldin said he returned the phone call, but as of Thursday afternoon the two hadn't spoken.
In the four-year history of his auction house, Goldin said he never sold an item before an auction ended. In order to do so here, it would have to be "remarkable circumstances," which he says means a favorable price and a guarantee that it would go back into the Mets Hall of Fame.
The price has now skyrocketed to $141,000 in online bidding in advance of the live auction at the end of the month.
"I'm very disappointed with the situation regarding my game jersey from Sept. 21, 2001," Mike Piazza previously told the Post. "I've expressed my feelings to [chief operating officer] 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."
Goldin has said the jersey was consigned to the auction by the world's biggest Mets memorabilia collector, who lent it to the team for its museum but recently got it back to put it in the auction.
"We made a mistake in selling the jersey, and Jeff called Mike to express our regret in so doing," a Mets spokesperson said in a statement to the Post. "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."
Goldin, however, told ESPN that the Mets did indeed verify the jersey's authenticity regarding game use.
"It comes with a letter of authenticity from the New York Mets, it comes with a photo-matched letter of authenticity from MeiGray, it comes with the display plaque when it hung in the Mets Museum that states, 'In this jersey Mike Piazza hit the game-winning home run on 9/21/2001,'" Goldin said.
Goldin also said he had the receipt from the consignor, as well as "numerous emails and discussions" between the consignor and the team about the jersey.
Piazza wore the jersey for the game on Sept. 21, 2001, the first regular-season game played at home by a New York team after the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 2,600 people in and around the World Trade Center towers.
On an emotional night, Piazza's two-run home run in the eighth inning gave the Mets a 3-2 lead against the Atlanta Braves. The crowd stood on its feet not only to salute Piazza, but also to show joy again by clapping, waving flags and chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
The jersey has an American flag patch on the back collar and "9-11-01" with American flags sewn on the right sleeve. The jersey is also signed by Piazza, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.