Hints at his HoF choice (NYT)?
“I have to say that my time with the Mets wouldn’t have been the same without the greatest fans in the world,” Piazza said in his statement. “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.”
Why everyone loved him (WSJ)?
But that awkwardness was endearing -- it made Mr. Piazza an approachable icon. He always seemed tickled that his sports celebrity let him consort with the musicians he idolized, and watching him try out his metal moves in onstage cameos was like seeing yourself air-guitaring in your room when you think no one's watching. He had a goofy weakness for terrible hair ideas -- after one horrifying summertime loss to the Cubs, he cut his hair short and had it dyed platinum, prompting a huge cheer from Wrigley Field the next day when he shed his helmet chasing an errant ball. Once, he wound up holding the ball after being hit by a pitch and disdainfully tossed it aside. "Did it look cool?" he eagerly asked reporters. (It did.)
And more (Newsday):
Starting on May 22, 1998, when he was acquired in that huge trade with the Marlins, Piazza did what almost no one else could have done. And it's not just that he hit better and more powerfully than any catcher we've ever seen (granted, most of us never saw Josh Gibson). He did something bigger than that. He made the Mets matter when the Yankees owned New York and the rest of the baseball world.