Every day is a special day in the city of Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but what’s more exciting is adding additional players to this legendary building. Last year, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio solidified their place into baseball history with their enshrined plaques entering baseball’s holy grail. This year, we add two more; longtime Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and Mets catcher Mike Piazza. To get into any Hall of Fame, you not only have to leave your mark on the game, but you have to win over the team, the city and the fans. No one displays better examples of that than these two players.
I had the honor of watching Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza when I was a little kid, and they were a blast to watch. Thanks to Griffey, I would always love to wear my hat backwards… as did many kids in my era. It didn’t mean cockiness, it meant confidence. He displayed that every time he stepped up to the plate. That sweet swing of his was something to behold.
As far as my favorite Mets players, no one tops one of the greatest catchers of all time, Mike Piazza. In the same state as the more popular New York Yankees, Piazza essentially revived the New York Mets franchise. His presence, his power, his incredible abilities behind the plate displayed nothing short of excellence.
Ken Griffey Jr. was first drafted in 1987 by the Seattle Mariners and led them to their first two playoff appearances in franchise history in 1995 and 1997. He hit .294 during his years with the Mariners, followed by .370 with the Cincinnati Reds, and .538 in one season with the Chicago White Sox. He totaled 630 home runs, which is good for sixth all time. On top of all that, KG is a 13-time All-Star, a 10-time Gold Glover and the 1997 AL MVP.
Mike Piazza is what you call the ultimate underdog story. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd (!) round of the 1988 MLB Draft. In 1993, he set a rookie record for catchers with 35 home runs. In his first 10 seasons, he made the All-Star team. I the latter half of his career, he made it two additional times, making him a 12-time All-Star. He also won 10 Silver Slugger awards as the best catcher in the National League. During his 16-year career, he batted .308 as a catcher, which is hard to accomplish. His 427 home runs are the most among all catchers in MLB history.
Two of the greatest baseball players of all time are finally home, in Cooperstown.
Raised in a competitive family, sports has been the majority of my life. Not only playing but watching as well. Born in Oak Lawn, IL (suburb of Chicago), I tend to have a bias, but I try to keep an open mind. Nonetheless, I enjoy watching and talking sports.