Piazza Retires

May 20, 2008 at 1:23 pm 5 comments

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Mike Piazza is retiring from baseball following a 16-season career in which he became one of the top-hitting catchers in history.

“After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it is time to start a new chapter in my life,” he said in a statement released Tuesday by his agent, Dan Lozano. “It has been an amazing journey … So today, I walk away with no regrets.

“I knew this day was coming and over the last two years, I started to make my peace with it. I gave it my all and left everything on the field.”

The 39-year-old Piazza became a free agent after last season and did not re-sign. He was not available to discuss his decision, according to Josh Goldberg, a spokesman for Lozano.

Taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft, Piazza became a 12-time All-Star, making the NL team 10 consecutive times starting in 1993.

He finished with a .308 career average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs for the Dodgers (1992-98), Florida (1998), New York Mets (1998-05), San Diego (2006) and Oakland (2007).

His 396 homers are easily the most as a catcher, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Carlton Fisk is second with 351, followed by Johnny Bench (327) and Yogi Berra (306).

Piazza thanked his family, teams and managers, some of his teammates — and even owners, general managers, minor league staffs and reporters.

“Within the eight years I spent in New York, I was able to take a different look at the game of baseball,” Piazza said. “I wasn’t just a young kid that was wet behind the ears anymore — I was learning from other veteran guys like Johnny Franco, who taught me how to deal with the pressures of playing in New York, and Al Leiter, who knew what it took to win a world championship.”

He did not bring up two of the more memorable moments in his career: When the Yankees’ Roger Clemens beaned him on July 8, 2000, and when Clemens threw the broken barrel of Piazza’s bat in his direction in Game 2 of the World Series that October. Clemens denied intent both times.

“Last but certainly not least, I can’t say goodbye without thanking the fans,” Piazza said. “I can’t recall a time in my career where I didn’t feel embraced by all of you. Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and Miami — whether it was at home or on the road, you were all so supportive over the years.

“But I have to say that my time with the Mets wouldn’t have been the same without the greatest fans in the world. One of the hardest moments of my career, was walking off the field at Shea Stadium and saying goodbye. My relationship with you made my time in New York the happiest of my career and for that, I will always be grateful.”

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  May 20, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I’m glad he went out now rather than playing another year or two with an AVG below .250. He is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer without a doubt.

    Reply
  • 2. supremesportsjustice  |  May 20, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    As long as he’s inducted as a Met, I’ll be happy. My best wishes to a great player!

    Reply
  • 3. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  May 20, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    I think he goes in as a Met.

    Reply
  • 4. Charlie Nehl  |  May 20, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I dunno it’s hard to say. He spent a long time in Los Angeles, but I think he really achieved his stardom as a Met.

    It was good to see him hang up the cleats now and end his career as a .250 as Jonathan stated.

    Reply
  • 5. Erik  |  May 21, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Piazza was a great hitter, his defense was a question especially throwing runners out but he did call a good game from time to time.

    I hope that when he goes in probably as a met because he achieved most of his stats in NY he will not have those blonde hair streaks and that 70’s male porn mustache.

    Reply

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