Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, New York. It was fitting that the pair would go in together, as they were two of the most captivating players in their generation.
Piazza, 47, was one the greatest offensive catchers in MLB history. He was a lifetime .308 hitter with 427 home runs, 1,335 RBI and 1,048 runs scored. He was the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year, a 12-time All-Star and won the NL Silver Slugger Award 10 straight years from 1993 to 2002.
He played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins (for five games in 1998), New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics.
MLB shared an image of his Hall of Fame plaque on Twitter:
Longtime baseball writer Peter Gammons broke down his career:
In his Hall of Fame speech, Piazza joked about the differences between himself and Griffey, via Baseball Hall:
He took a moment to praise Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, via Brian Kenny of MLB Network:
He also thanked Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.
"He was always there for me like a guardian angel," he noted, per Baseball Hall.
He acknowledged the Mets fans in the crowd:
And finally, he had a few words for his father, Vince.
"We made it, Dad," he said, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. "The race is over. Now is the time to smell the roses."
Kenny was impressed by Piazza's speech:
Here are Piazza's full opening remarks:
Up next was The Kid.
MLB shared his plaque:
Griffey, 46, was one of the best center fielders to ever play the game. He finished his career as a lifetime .284 hitter with 630 home runs (sixth-most in history), 1,836 RBI and 1,662 runs scored. He was the 1997 American League MVP, a 13-time All-Star selection and a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner.
He had stints with the Seattle Mariners (twice) and debuted with the team as a 19-year-old in 1989. He also played for the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox.
Griffey's impact went beyond just his numbers, however, as Kevin Pelton of ESPN tweeted:
Griffey spoke with Harold Reynolds about being voted into the Hall of Fame:
In his speech, it didn't take long for him to get emotional, as Kenny and Baseball Hall shared:
"He taught me how to play, but more importantly how to be a man," he said of his father, Ken Griffey Sr., who also played professionally. The pair became the first father-son duo to ever take the field together in 1990 with the Mariners.
He also called Jay Buhner his favorite teammate.
"Greatest teammate I ever had," Griffey said, per Baseball Hall. "He spoke the truth—even when you didn't want to hear it."
He also had some love for the Mariners.
"Out of my 22 years, I learned that one team will treat you the best—and that's your first team," Griffey said, per Baseball Hall. "I'm very proud to be a Seattle Mariner."
And he even managed to sneak in his signature look from his playing days: the backward cap, via Cut4.
Here are Griffey's full opening remarks:
Whereas Griffey was a top prospect and always expected to be a star, Piazza was the ultimate rags-to-riches story. Griffey was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 draft, while the Dodgers selected Piazza with the 1,390th overall pick in 1988.
So while Piazza was a rarity in the sport as an offensive juggernaut and Griffey was a fun, wildly exciting and incredibly gifted athlete, the two couldn't have had more divergent beginnings on their paths to Cooperstown.
For that reason, it was fitting for them to reach Cooperstown together. In baseball, the hyped prospect who lives up to expectations and the unknown who shatters them both have the chance to make their impact in the game.
Griffey and Piazza did just that.
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