Baseball Corridor of Famer Mike Piazza is now battle-ready for 'Particular Forces'

On January 4th, more than a dozen celebrities will arrive in the desert to complete some of the toughest, most grueling challenges from the playbook of the current Special Forces selection process on the show "Special Forces: The World's Toughest Test" hosted by Mike Piazza.

There are no votes and no eliminations in this new Fox series - just survival for these 16 contestants - including Danny Amendola, Mel B, Hannah Brown, Tyler Florence, Kate Gosselin, Dwight Howard, Montell Jordan, Gus Kenworthy, Nastia Liukin, Carli LloydBeverly MitchellKenya MooreDr. Drew Pinsky, Anthony Scaramucci and Jamie Lynn Spears. They joined baseball great Mike Piazza - aka "The Supreme" - as they quickly learned the meaning of " Guts, Glory" by embarking on intense training drills, the more unforgiving of an elite team Ex-special forces were headed.

M&F sat down with Mike Piazza to learn more about the baseball icon's family ties to the military and how a career in a team sport may have worked in his favour.

Mike Piazza's father, Vince, was a military veteran who was drafted into the Korean War but suffered an ankle injury before disembarking. Had that not happened, the Baseball Hall of Fame might never have formed because the vast majority of his father's crew were badly wounded in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. When Vince's infected ankle recovered, he was posted to border patrol in West Germany. Luckily he made it home, and while devastated that many of his friends were lost in the war, he was happily able to move on and raise five sons. "He talks a lot about the guys he knew who didn't come back," says Mike Piazza, who has 16 seasons in the majors, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. "Well, that inspired me a little bit. And so, in my own life, I just feel like there are so many military people who have really sacrificed for freedom and for the possibility that we can have a good life that I feel a little bit guilty, you know? And hopefully this is my own little way of paying tribute to them.”

Courtesy of Fox

Mike Piazza says that nothing can prepare you for the special forces

Even though Mike Piazza takes part in a television show instead of actually joining the military, to call his tribute "small" might still be considered a bit of an understatement. The only way for Piazza to leave the show is if he admits the embarrassment of quitting through failure to himself or his team, through injury, or through the DS's violence. Special forces. World's Toughest Test is the ultimate assessment of the cast's physical, mental and emotional toughness, and the action begins before they even arrive at base. So how soon after that ordeal did Piazza begin to question his judgment for signing on for such a brutal show? "Ha, I think on the first day," he laughs. "Don't get me wrong, I did some research on the show and I knew it wasn't going to be a picnic, I knew it wasn't going to be just craft services and smoothies, but you don't really get that until you see it through. I've been a professional athlete, trained hard at my craft, and consider myself reasonably fit physically. I still enjoy exercising later in life, but nothing can prepare you for it.”

At the age of 53, Piazza proved he still has a lot to fight for. But of course, a home run is a very different experience than running on the uneven surface of a sandy desert. "I was pretty exhausted after the first few days," he says. “My joints were just from playing baseball [already] a bit sore. It's the intensity. That was the biggest eye opener for me. Just general things like athlete's foot. Wearing the boots and not being able to shower. The living conditions were so brutal. On the second day I peeled the skin off my feet. Man I thought I put that behind me 10 years ago!”

Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza runs in the desert for Fox's Special Forces - World's Toughest Test.”Courtesy of Fox Entertainment

Teamwork makes the dream work for Mike Piazza

Luckily, it wasn't just Piazza's physical background that helped him on the show, as it turned out that his experiences in a team environment also served him well mentally. “The interesting dichotomy was; the athletes on the show, those who were individual athletes and those who were team athletes,” Piazza says. “We saw straight away how with Gus Kenworthy, who is an individual athlete as a skier, or Nastia Liukin, who was a gymnast, and you could see that individual athletes are different than people who are on a team because when you are In a team you have to rely on each other, you have to lean on each other, you have to accept each other's strengths and weaknesses, so I obviously bonded with Dwight Howard and Danny Amendola, guys who were team athletes. We hit it off right away, while there was a little conflict with me and Gus on the show. I think he didn't quite understand me and I didn't understand him, and that's the interesting part. And then seeing everyone come together as a team was really captivating. We got really close. We all text now and we have a group chat. Once you go through some sort of traumatic experience like this and you help and depend on each other, our pride and egos have been completely shattered. It was really interesting to see all those walls come down.”

Thanks to his upbringing and his participation in baseball, Piazza was also able to take direction from executives. "I immediately had this respect for authority, but some people don't," he laughs. While Piazza's athletic experience was certainly an advantage, the batting catcher often found himself outside his comfort zone on Special Forces: World's Toughest Test. "Many of the tasks were daunting," says Piazza. "When we traversed over the cables, over the crevasse, about 300 feet down, of course we had safety gear on that exercise, but then we just hiked over there and realized if you fall you're dead. It's called Weasel Run where we walk and the rock is right in front of you so we walked at more of a 45 degree angle, no safety gear. That was terrifying for me.”

So how did Piazza manage when he felt like he was losing his mental footing? "I returned to that inner peace and prayed and meditated," says Piazza. "I don't see how you can go through something like this without internalizing yourself and calming yourself down, putting it into perspective and trying to refocus." While some people are afraid of heights or being submerged underwater, who was Piazza's greatest fear is the idea of ​​failing for himself and for his team. Without spoiling it, it's fair to say that there were times when the Dodgers and Mets legend would rely on this new team to help them dig deep. "First, it made me appreciate life," Piazza reflects. “Secondly, it has given me more patience. I think as an athlete who's reached a high level it's easy for us to be critical of people and expect them to do what you could do and as a player who's achieved some things. I'm looking at other players now or the kids I'm coaching and I'm more patient. I understand more that everyone has their limits. Try to empower people to succeed, not fail.”

Special Forces: World's Toughest Test premieres on FOX on January 4th from 8pm to 10pm ET/PT.

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