— Calling Vin Scully “a class act” and saying he had “the utmost respect” for him, Mike Piazza on Monday defended what he wrote in his recently released autobiography about the Hall of Fame broadcaster.
In his book, “Long Shot,” Piazza described Scully as instrumental in turning the fans of Los Angeles against him during the contract stalemate that led to his trade to the Florida Marlins in 1998. Piazza wrote that Scully “was crushing me” on the air, a charge Scully vehemently denied.
“I can’t say that I have regrets,” Piazza said. “I was just trying to explain the situation.”
The former All-Star catcher was at the Dodgers’ spring-training facility with Italy’s World Baseball Classic team, for which he is a coach. Scully was also at the complex, to call the Dodgers’ 7-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
“I’d love to see him,” Piazza said.
The two didn’t meet.
“I always liked him,” Scully said. “I admired him. I think either he made a mistake or got some bad advice. I still think of him as a great player and I hope he gets into the Hall of Fame. I really do. Whatever disappointment I feel, I’ll put aside.”
Scully declined to comment further on Piazza or his book.
Piazza complimented Scully as he tried to defend what he wrote.
“Vin is a class act; he’s an icon,” Piazza said. “To this day, I have the utmost respect for him. But the problem is, you have to go back in time and understand that at that point in time in my career with the Dodgers was a very tumultuous time. I was more or less telling my version of the story, at least what I was experiencing. And I said at the end of the book, it’s not coming from a place of malice or anger. I think anybody who remembers that time knows it was a very tumultuous time.”
Piazza said his intent wasn’t to blame Scully.
“I don’t think anybody who read the passage from start to finish felt that way,” Piazza said. “Anybody who reads it knows it wasn’t me blaming. That was definitely not the only factor. There were other factors. The team made the mistake, I made the mistake, of speaking publicly.”
Piazza acknowledged that he never heard Scully’s broadcasts and that his impressions of them were based on what he heard from others.
“My perception was that he was given the Dodgers’ versions of the negotiations, which, I feel, wasn’t 100% accurate,” Piazza said.
In his book, Piazza also took issue with how Scully asked him about his contract demands during a spring-training interview. Piazza said Monday that he was “taken aback” by the line of questioning because he previously hadn’t talked publicly about the negotiations.
To reach the practice fields at Camelback Ranch on Monday, Piazza had to pass through a gantlet of Dodgers fans. Piazza said he wasn’t nervous.
“I did a book signing a couple of weeks ago in Pasadena and the fans were really nice,” he said.
Piazza denied that he hadn’t returned to Dodger Stadium in recent years out of fear of being booed, as Tom Lasorda told The Times last month.
Piazza said he always associated the Dodgers with the O’Malley family, which sold the team to News Corp. in 1998.
“Since then, obviously, they’ve taken on a different identity,” Piazza said.
Piazza was noncommittal about visiting the ballpark in the future. “We’ll see,” he said. “I’ll never say never.”
Wouldn’t it be harder to return now that his portrayal of Scully has upset fans?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer that.”
Piazza also spoke about falling short of being elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
“I definitely couldn’t lie and say I wasn’t a little disappointed,” he said.
He is hopeful he will one day be inducted. “I trust the process,” he said.
Piazza wouldn’t say whether he thought Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. Both players, who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, also were denied election.
Piazza has denied using performance-enhancing drugs and has never faced detailed allegations that he did. Asked if he was upset that the indiscretions of others might have altered others’ perceptions of him, he replied, “Unfortunately, that’s the way life is sometimes. I can’t control and worry about what people think.”