Ken Griffey Jr. gives emotional Hall of Fame induction speech
Ken Griffey Jr. officially became the first Mariner ever inducted the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. And in classic Griffey fashion, his performance came from the heart.
In front of an estimated crowd of about 50,000, Griffey stopped to collect himself multiple times during his speech as he thanked his family, former teammates and mentors as well as Mariners fans.
“Out of my 22 years, I learned that only one team will treat you the best, and that’s your first team,” he said. “I’m damn proud to be a Seattle Mariner.”
Griffey, who earned a record 99.3 percent of the votes last winter to reach the HOF, entered Cooperstown with former catcher Mike Piazza. He had to wipe away tears from the get-go, saying early in his speech that “I stand up here humbled and overwhelmed.”
Griffey thanked other Hall of Famers like Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray, as well as former teammates Randy Johnson, Harold Reynolds, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez. Griffey called Buhner “the greatest teammate I ever had.” And when it came to Edgar, he said, “Yes, he belongs in the Hall.”
Griffey ended his speech by saying there were two misconceptions throughout his career: that he didn’t work hard and that he made the game look easy.
“Just because I made it look easy doesn’t mean it was,” he said.
Other highlights from the speech and ceremony:
• Johnson received a big cheer from the heavy Mariners contingent at the ceremony when announced as among the 48 hall of Famers in attendance. Griffey’s introductory cheer, of course, was much louder.
• Piazza, drafted in the 62nd round of the MLB draft, said the only two things he and Griffey have in common are “two arms and two legs.” Piazza said he was honored to be enshrined alongside the Mariners legend who never rested on his No. 1 overall pick pedigree.
• Former Mariners manager Lou Piniella introduced Griffey. He told a funny anecdote about beating Griffey in a March Madness bet for what was supposed to be a steak dinner. The next day, Piniella found big cow in his office. “Players like Junior,” Piniella said, “they don’t come around very often.”
• Griffey told stories about his kids, including his daughter, whom he said he felt immediately protective of. “I didn’t even like my teammates who had boys,” he said.
• Griffey ended his speech by flipping his hat backward. Obviously.
— Edgar Martinez (@11EdgarMartinez) July 24, 2016