When you think Ken Griffey Jr., the first picture that pops into your mind is of the precocious young star who took the game by storm in Seattle. When it comes to Mike Piazza, it's hard not to settle on him leading the New York Mets to a Subway Series showdown against the Yankees.
Now, both players will be immortalized forever in those states. Griffey announced Thursday that he'll go into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner, while Piazza followed suit by announcing his cap will don the Mets logo.
"I think I did most of my damage as a Mariner," Griffey said, per Lance McAlister of ESPN 1530.
Griffey and Piazza essentially split their primes between two teams. Griffey spent his first 11 MLB seasons in Seattle, earning 10 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves and the 1997 MVP Award. Three times he led the American League in home runs, and he also led Seattle to its first playoff-series victory in history during the 1995 season.
Griffey subsequently signed with his hometown Cincinnati Reds, where he spent parts of the next nine seasons. While he put up 40 homers and made the All-Star team during his first year with Cincinnati, injuries derailed Griffey's prime and rendered his overall Reds experience a disappointment.
He made three All-Star appearances and was the 2005 NL Comeback Player of the Year winner, but his contributions paled in comparison to his Mariner days.
Making it all the more obvious is the fact Griffey returned to Seattle for an aborted two-year stint to finish his career. He retired midway through the 2010 season amid ineffective play, although few in Seattle will remember those waning days. They'll remember "The Slide," "The Catch" and all those long bombs that went soaring over the Kingdome roof.
Unfortunately, one thing we all remember will not be immortalized: Bob Nightengale of USA Today confirmed Griffey's hat will be worn forward rather than backward.
Piazza's decision was a little more murky. The greatest hitting catcher of all time spent his first six-plus seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team that plucked him from obscurity when no one else would have drafted him. He became a superstar in Los Angeles, racking up five All-Star appearances and as many Silver Sluggers while emerging as a dominant offensive force.
A pair of trades midway through 1998 sent him to New York, where he'd spend part of the next eight seasons. Piazza never quite reached the individual season heights as a Met that he did as a Dodger, but he had far more postseason success. The Mets made the 1999 National League Championship Series and 2000 World Series with Piazza playing a starring role, becoming one of the best players in franchise history.
"Once I just tried to do my best, the fans responded," Piazza said, per the Hall of Fame's official Twitter. "I'm blessed to have played here."
The decisions here in both cases aren't remotely shocking. However, with Griffey becoming the first Mariner enshrined, the announcement becomes all the more historic.
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