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 was time to start a new chapter in my life," he said in a statement released yesterday 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 2 years I started to make my peace with it. I gave it my all and left everything on the field."
Piazza, 39, batted .275 with eight homers and 44 RBI as a designated hitter for Oakland last season, became a free agent 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 on the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft, the Norristown native became a 12-time All-Star, making the NL team 10 consecutive times starting in 1993.
"He was one of those hitters who could change the game with one swing. He was certainly the greatest-hitting catcher of our time, and arguably of all time," said Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine, Piazza's former teammate on the New York Mets.
Piazza finished with a .308 career average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs for the Dodgers (1992-98), Florida (1998), Mets (1998-05), San Diego (2006) and Oakland (2007).
"It's the end of a Hall of Fame career," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "It was a privilege to manage him for the short time that I did."
Piazza's 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.
"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." *