Mike 'I'm not gay' Piazza retires

piazzameta.jpgThe longtime all-star catcher Mike Piazza, who famously declared his heterosexuality in 2002, has retired after 16 seasons, most of them spent with the Dodgers and Mets.

"After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it is time to start a new chapter in my life," Piazza, 39, said. "It has been an amazing journey. 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."

Piazza's 2002 press conference where he declared he was not gay (following a blind item in the New York Post) set off a torrent of media coverage about gays in sports. So, in that regard, Piazza did raise awareness of the issue, even though there was apparently nothing to the rumors that had Piazza shacking up with New York weatherman Sam Champion. In 2005, Piazza wed "Baywatch" actress Alicia Rickter.

In his declaration of his heterosexuality and in his marriage, Piazza set a trend and beat NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia by a couple of years. Swiss triathlete Sebastien Gacond and French tennis player Richard Gasquet in 2007 each joined the list of jocks who made sure we knew there was no way they were gay. Any others who wish to do so need only drop Outsports a line. --Jim Buzinski

Hat tip to Deadspin.

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