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Private Collector Stirs Controversy Putting Mike Piazza Jersey From First Mets Home Game After 9/11 Up For Auction

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Going, going, gone?

The jersey New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza wore the night he hit that iconic home run in the team's first home game since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks is stirring up controversy as it goes up for auction.

CBS2's Steve Overmyer reports the Mets sold the jersey three years ago to a private collector. The collector immediately loaned it back to the team for display but now he's selling it.

"What you have is the feeling the Mets let go of a piece of memorabilia they should've never let go, no matter what the price," Boomer Esiason, of WFAN's "Boomer and Carton," said.

The Mets released a statement confirming that "our memorabilia group sold a jersey that meets this description," but refused to elaborate.

The month-long online auction will open Monday, April 4. Piazza's jersey is expected to fetch more than $50,000, making it the most expensive Mets jersey ever.

New Yorkers were split on the collector auctioning off the jersey.

"Getting personal gain for such an event is a little selfish," Mike said. "Sleazy sums it up."

Jonathan Schreiber, however, had a different view.

"He wants to make money on his investment. I don't blame him," Schreiber said.

Ken Goldin, a sports memorabilia magnate, is hosting the auction. He said the owner would have been happy leaving the jersey on display with the Mets, but the value of Piazza memorabilia has increased since he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

"Now the individual is reaching retirement age and has three daughters entering college and looking to build a nest egg," Goldin said.

The auction house has been contacted by the 9/11 Memorial and Cooperstown has said they want to display the jersey.

The current owner is hoping the jersey can end up on display somewhere, but it is not a condition of the sale.

The owner will be open to making a deal quickly if the right price is paid, if a charity is involved, or if the Mets want to buy it back.

A LOOK BACK: Piazza Recalls First Post-9/11 Game

Piazza spoke about the home run in January on the day after he was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame.

"It's tough because I get emotional thinking back at that week," he said. "I mean, anybody knows who was there, it's something you can't define. It changed all of our lives, not at a baseball level, but personally for me. I mean, it really put my life in perspective and focused what the important things in life are, and that's family  and friends and relationships.

"To be, for me, at the right place at the right time and come through, I can only think it comes from above and a lot of people who put wind under my wings. That was a special moment for me."

The auction ends April 30.

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