This happens when a memory is so intense and the subject of it becomes so remote — moments come back as flashes seeming longer ago than they actually were and even more luminous. So it is with Mike Piazza and the Mets an athlete and team that paired to create magic then ceased collaborating on anything.

If you rewind and concentrate there he is gripping the shattered head of a bat and lurching confused toward Roger Clemens in the 2000 World Series. Or there you are crying when he hit that home run against the Braves with the city still aching from 9/11 whether you cared about the Mets Yankees or neither. These are lasting nights in the recent history of New York baseball.

But where has he been lately?

And will his return to Queens on Sunday for induction into the Mets’ Hall of Fame signal the beginning of a phase in which he inches toward becoming a more regular presence? For all the drama and on-field struggle of recent years the Mets have been strong about retaining important faces and drawing connections to their past; Tom Seaver Keith Hernandez Mookie Wilson John Franco Edgardo Alfonzo Ron Darling Tim Teufel Wally Backman and Bob Ojeda are among those who work either for the team or its broadcast.

Piazza the favorite of many fans who were still guzzling baby formula when Vin Scully screamed “Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!” has been a scarce presence in Metsland in recent years appearing for the closing of Shea Stadium in 2008 the opening of Citi Field the following spring and the All-Star Game this year. Why is that?

“I’m not sure” says Franco Piazza’s former teammate and a 2012 inductee into the team’s Hall of Fame. “He did move down to Florida. He started a family. He has a beautiful wife and kids. I know he wanted to be down there. That’s a question you’ll have to ask Mike.”

Franco is right but that is impossible at least before this weekend’s ceremonies. Piazza declined through a Mets spokesperson to be interviewed for this story indicating that he did not want to do any press until Sunday.