— Days Without Shea —

Filed under: Baseball | Ex-Mets | Mets | Shea
by Kingman on May 20 at 5:58PM

Piazza0901Mike Piazza made official today what everyone else already knew: it’s time to retire.

No team signed him after last season. He had been working out and was even rumored to consider a job in Japan.

But today Piazza put out a press release, officially ending his career. Some excerpts:

"After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it was time to start a new chapter in my life. 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.”

Mike made a point of thanking fans, and especially New York Met fans.

"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."

"Within the eight years I spent in New York, I was able to take a different look at the game of baseball. 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."

Piazza ends his career with a .308 career average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs. He is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013. If Clemens never plays again, (assuming he doesn’t go to jail, or spontaneously explode in a steroid accident), he will also be eligible for the Hall of Fame the same year. That’s one induction ceremony I’d like to attend.

Congrats on a fantastic career, Mike. Piazza was one of the greatest to ever play in Shea Stadium. His arrival transformed this team in the 90’s. And he truly dug New York and understood how to play here.

One of my favorite memories of Piazza is actually when he was no longer a Met. When the Padres came to town in 2006, my kids and I were at Shea Stadium early. It was a day game after a night game, so there was no batting practice. We were out at the outskirts of the Loge section, watching Glavine throw in the bullpen. Both teams were warming up but Piazza (who wasn’t playing that day) arrived late (which you can do when you’re Mike Piazza). It was a travel day and Piazza walked into Shea through the back gate, near where the player’s parking lot is, wheeling in his own luggage. He stopped to say hi to some of the Shea custodial staff. There were only a few of us up in Loge but we yelled to him and Piazza stopped and acknowledged us, smiling and waving to everyone. It was a small gesture but it meant alot to my small kids, who admired Piazza and were still too young to understand how a ball player can play for another team.

Maybe Piazza’ll be moving back to NY permanently. He did christen his baby daughter out this way earlier in the year. We may be seeing more of Piazza now.



[May 20, 2008 9:02 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Ron Hunt said

Congrats to Mike for a great career! Looking back I think Mike had a great Mets career. He did a lot of good things for us and I'm not sure we can say the same. Our expectations may have been out of line but you never doubted where Mike's heart was. I probably didn't appreciate him enough while he was here, but as Kingman said, I always loved the way Mike embraced the city. Very quickly he understood it, and became a New Yorker. Not many ball-players can say that. I think I see another blue & orange cap in Cooperstown.

[May 21, 2008 3:36 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Bobster said

The Mets have made it to the World Series only four times, and three catchers helped get them there: Jerry Grote, Gary Carter and Mike Piazza. Thanks, Mike.

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