Piazza, Greatest L.A. Hitter, Retires

Mike Piazza, the greatest hitter in Los Angeles history, probably the greatest hitter in baseball history, has announced his retirement. "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 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", he said.

Piazza hit more homers than any L.A. catcher (177) over his 700 games in Dodger Blue, had the highest career average (.331) and is second in slugging percentage (.572). He holds the single season record with a batting average of .361, set in 1997, and is also second with a .346 mark in 1995 and fifth with a .336 in 1996. He holds the second (.638), fourth (.606), ninth (.563) and 10th (.561) best slugging average.  

Piazza was drafted by Los Angeles in the 62nd round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft, but took the league by storm in his rookie season of 1993. The Pennsylvania native hit .318 with 35 homers and 112 RBI (both Dodger rookie records), made the All-Star team, and was unanimously selected as the NL Rookie of the Year.  

Piazza also won the Silver Slugger Award, an accolade he would win every full season he finished in a Dodger uniform (1993-97). Piazza finished second in the MVP vote after the 1996 and '97 seasons and was named the 1996 All-Star Game MVP in his hometown of Philadelphia.  

In the five full seasons Piazza played for the Dodgers, he averaged 33 home runs and 105 RBI while batting .337. Piazza also remains the only Dodger to hit a home run completely out of Dodger Stadium during a game.  

Traded to the Marlins as part of perhaps the worst deal in Dodger history, Piazza went on to become a 12-time All-Star, making the NL team 10 consecutive times starting in 1993.  

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

With Oakland in 2007 he batted .275 with eight homers and 44 RBIs as a designated hitter, became a free agent and did not re-sign.  

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

"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 John 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.  

"Last but certainly not least, I can't say goodbye without thanking the fans. 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," he said. "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."

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