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Fisk, Bench, Berra, Carter gather

NEW YORK -- In a convention of Hall of Fame catchers,
Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Yogi Berra gathered
Friday night to honor Mike Piazza, who earlier this season broke
the home run record for catchers.

Piazza snapped Fisk's mark of 351 homers on May 5 and entered
play Friday with 355 while playing the position. Now, he is
primarily a first baseman.

He caught for the first time since May 23 on Thursday and was
behind the plate again for Friday night's game against the Detroit
Tigers.

"It's a real honor that these men changed their schedules to
come here," Piazza said. "It's a tribute to the game, to the
position of catcher. It's a celebration of the game and the
position of catcher more than the home run mark.

"I guess I feel like I'm retiring."

Piazza said he feels all of his home runs are special. Overall,
he has 372, 56th on the career list and two short of Rocky
Colavito.

"I think hitting home runs is the single most difficult thing
to do in sports," he said.

Fisk said he knew Piazza was approaching the record when this
season began. "I was cheering for him," he said. "I appreciate
his talent. I had seen him the day before at first base. There's
only one place on the field you're supposed to get run over. I told
him, 'Get back behind the plate. You'll get hurt at first base.'

"Only we as catchers can fully appreciate what it means to go
behind the plate every day and put some offensive numbers on the
board. Mike has met that challenge."

Fisk's most famous home run was his 12th-inning winner in the
sixth game of the 1975 World Series. He said there were other
memorable ones.

"My first major league hit was a home run in Tiger Stadium,"
he said. "Up until a few days ago, I was the oldest major leaguer
to hit a grand slam. Now it's Julio Franco."

"You're losing all kinds of records this year," Bench said.

Bench recalled the first time he saw Piazza hit.

"He looked like he made the ball stop," Bench said. "George
Foster was like that. Barry Bonds, too. So fast through the hitting
area."

Bench is third on the catchers' home run list with 327, followed
by Berra (306), Lance Parrish (299), Carter (298), Roy Campanella
(239) and Ivan Rodriguez (234).

Parrish, now the Tigers' bullpen coach, and Rodriguez, now
catching for Detroit, joined the ceremonies along with Hall of
Famer Tommy Lasorda, Piazza's first manager, and Hall of Famer
Ralph Kiner -- a longtime Mets broadcaster.