Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza became the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
The former Mariners outfielder and Mets catcher took the stage in Cooperstown for their induction.
Piazza went first, initially taking a moment to credit the talented Griffey (“the only thing we had in common as ballplayers was two arms and two legs,” Piazza said.)
“The only way I thought I would be here with you is if I bought a ticket," Piazza said to Griffey, also specifically thanking Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Johnny Bench and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, among a host of others.
Griffey was also emotional as he thanked teammates, family and his baseball mentors, including Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Smith and Dave Winfield. Griffey is the highest-drafted player ever elected to the Hall of Fame, going first overall in 1987. He also briefly lobbied for former Mariners teammate Edgar Martinez, a designated hitter, to join him in the Hall.
“One team will treat you the best, and that’s your first team,” Griffey said of the Mariners, where he began and ended his career. “The two perceptions of me were I didn’t work hard, and I made everything look easy. Just because I made it look easy didn’t mean it was.” He ended his speech by donning a Hall of Fame cap in his trademark backwards fashion.
Griffey, 46, was a 13-time All-Star and the 1997 MVP, finishing with 2,781 hits and 630 home runs with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox. He led the American League in Home Runs four times and won 10 Gold Gloves, his charisma and picturesque swing making him one of the most iconic players of his generation.
Piazza, 47, retired as one of the most prolific offensive catchers in baseball history, hitting .308 with 427 home runs over 16 seasons with the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres and Athletics. He made 12 All-Star teams and never struck out more than 100 times in any season.
Piazza also hit a memorable home run in wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, giving the Mets a 3–2 lead against the Braves in the first sporting event in New York City held in the aftermath.