Piazza retires

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Mike Piazza, regarded as the best-hitting catcher in baseball history, announced his retirement on Tuesday.

“I have come to the decision to officially retire from Major League Baseball,” a statement from Piazza read from agent Dan Lozano. “At this point in my career and after discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it is time to start a new chapter in my life. It has been an amazing journey and everything I have, I owe to God, for without his help, none of this would be possible. He blessed me with the ability to play the greatest game in the world and it has been a dream come true.”

The 39-year-old backstop batted .275 with eight home runs and 44 runs batted as a designated hitter last season in 83 games for the Oakland Athletics. He was a free agent in the offseason, but did not sign anywhere.

The 12-time All-Star catcher, who earned 10 straight selections to the Midsummer Classic from 1993 to 2002, belted 427 career home runs, 396 as a catcher, the most by a backstop in MLB history.

The 1993 NL Rookie of the Year, Piazza went on to more than validate his selection. He twice finished second in MVP voting, including 1998, when he batted .362 with 40 home runs and 124 runs batted in for the Dodgers, setting or tying career highs in each category.