Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza Inducted into Cooperstown
The time came around again for the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to vote for the newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. After four hundred and forty voters cast their ballots, the results were announced on Jan. 6. In a surprising result, only two men got the call to the Hall of Fame this year.
Ken Griffey, Jr., born in Donora, Pennsylvania (also home to the great Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals), followed in the footsteps of his father with a lengthy career, which began in 1989 with the Seattle Mariners. Griffey, Sr. did join his son briefly in 1990 and 1991, and on September 14th, 1990, the two hit back-to-back home runs against California Angels pitcher Kirk McCaskill at Anaheim Stadium.
Griffey, Jr. set a popular fashion trend by wearing his cap backwards and was also known for his towering home runs at such stadiums as Seattle’s Kingdome. But he is best known in Seattle for scoring the winning run on an Edgar Martinez double that eliminated the New York Yankees in the fifth game of the 1995 ALDS.
Griffey was later traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where his father had success as a member of the 1975 and 1976 World Series Champions, also known as the Big Red Machine. Griffey, Jr. hit his 500th home run on Father’s Day, 2004, with his father in attendance in St. Louis. After brief stints with the Chicago White Sox and a return to the Mariners, Griffey retired in 2010 with 630 home runs, the sixth most all-time. In his first time on the ballot, he entered the Hall with over 99% of balloters voting for him, a new record.
Also entering the Hall is local boy Mike Piazza of Norristown. After starting his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Piazza made a name for himself in New York, leading the Mets to the 2000 World Series. His game-winning home run on September 21st, 2001, uplifted a city that was recovering from the largest terrorist attack on US soil. Piazza retired in 2007 with 427 home runs, a record 396 of them as a catcher. Piazza entered the Hall on his fourth time on the ballot.
Players need to be voted on 75% or more BBWAA ballots to be elected into the Hall of Fame. Beginning five years after retirement, players have ten chances to be elected into the Hall by BBWAA writers. If they do not succeed, they will be eligible twenty years after retirement to be voted in as part of one of the Veterans’ Committee’s three sub-committees, each group designated by time period: the Pre-Integration Era (pre-1947), the Golden Era (1947-1972), and the Expansion Era (1973-present).
Griffey and Piazza will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 24.