As members of the 2016 Pro Baseball Hall of Fame class, Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. will forever be linked. But their legacies were almost intertwined 16 years prior, when Junior was traded from the Seattle Mariners to Piazza's New York Mets.
Before Griffey invoked his no-trade clause and nixed the deal.
It was December 1999, and the Mets were coming off a 97-win season, but one that ended in an NLCS loss to the division rival Atlanta Braves. General manger Steve Phillips was searching for a co-star to pair with the 31-year-old catcher, and Griffey was asking out of Seattle. For New York, it seemed to be a match made in baseball heaven.
"We thought there was a chance, especially coming off the year that we had, and with the expectation that we would be good again," Jim Duquette, then the Mets' assistant general manager, said according to the New York Times. "We would have had Alfonzo, Griffey and then Piazza. We were salivating over that."
So the Mets and Mariners agreed to a trade, with Octavio Dotel, Armando Benitez and Roger Cedeno headlining the package being sent to the Mariners. But as a player with 10 years of MLB experience and five with his current team, Griffey had the right to veto any trade. And he did just that.
Allegedly uncomfortable with the notion of playing in New York, and apprehensive about heading to an organization that may trade him after a year or two, the 32-year-old rejected his ticket to the Mets, a pairing with Piazza and a trip to the World Series in 2000.
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Ken Griffey Jr. through his career
Remembering the day that Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza could have became teammates
Former Cincinnati Reds center fielders Ken Griffey Jr., right, and Cesar Geronimo hug in ceremonies after a baseball game between the Reds and the Miami Marlins, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Cincinnati. Griffey will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame, Saturday. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 1: Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 1, 1989 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners eyes the approaching pitch from Texas Ranger pitcher Charlie Hough during the 7th inning just before he unloads to send the ball into the right field seats to notch his 10th homerun of the year and break a 1-1 tie in Seattle, June 5, 1989. (AP Photo/Robert Kaiser)
CIRCA 1990: Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners poses for this portrait circa 1990 before a Major League Baseball game. Griffey played for the Mariners from 1989-99 and 2009-2010. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
1993: Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners looks on during a game in the 1993 season. (Photo by Andy Hayt/Getty Images)
Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. smiles from beneath a pile of teammates who mobbed him after he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning against the New York Yankees Sunday, Oct. 8, 1995 in Seattle. The Mariners won 6-5. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Marinersâ Ken Griffey Jr. flips his bat after srawing a walk during the ninth inning against the California Angels in Anaheim, Calif. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 1996. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)
Ken Griffey Jr. holds up a Cincinnati Reds jersey at a news conference in Cincinnati, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2000, after agreeing to a nine-year contract worth $116.5 million with the Reds, the richest package in baseball history. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., prepares for Monday's Graperfruit League game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays March 11, 2002 in Sarasota, Fla..(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates new center fielder Kenny Lofton is grabbed by Cincinnati Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., during pre-game warm ups before Thursday Grapefruit League action Thursday, March 20, 2003 in Sarasota, Fla.. It was Lofton's first major league action since coming to the Pirates last week.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Cincinnati Reds' radio announcer Joe Nuxhall, right, presents Ken Griffey Jr. a crystal plaque for his 500th career home run during a ceremony prior to their game with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park, Friday, June 25, 2004, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
HOUSTON - JULY 12: Ken Griffey Jr. & son Trey look on during the 2004 All-Star Game Home Run Derby at Minute Maid Field on July 12, 2004 in Houston TX. (Photo by Rich Pilling/ MLB Photos via Getty Images).
KRT SPORTS STORY SLUGGED: BBN-REDS-NATIONALS KRT PHOTOGRAPH BY CHUCK KENNEDY/KRT (August 25) WASHINGTON, DC -- Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. bats in the seventh inning against Washington on Thursday, August 25, 2005. (Photo by Chuck Kennedy/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
SARASOTA, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Ken Griffey Jr. #3 poses during Cincinnati Reds photo day on February 24, 2006 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. is congratulated after hitting a solo home run off Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano in the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 10, 2006, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
Cincinnati Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. smiles in the dugout during the Reds 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in a spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla., Tuesday, March 27, 2007. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. can't make a sliding catch on a single by Houston Astros' Mark Loretta in the seventh inning of the Astros' 10-2 win in a baseball game Thursday, May 31, 2007, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
As rain drops begin to fall, Cincinnati Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. waits on the dugout rail during an MLB baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Sunday, June 24, 2007, at Safeco Field in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Newly acquired Chicago White Sox player Ken Griffey Jr. talks to the reporters during a press conference in Chicago, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago White Sox's Ken Griffey Jr. watches his RBI single during the second inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on Friday, Aug. 1, 2008, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. hits a two-run home run against the Oakland Athletics in the fifth inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 24, 2009, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2009, file photo, Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. is carried around the field by Ryan Langerhans, left, and Matt Tuiasosopo, right, after the Mariners' 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers in a baseball game in Seattle. Ken Griffey Jr. seems assured of election to the Baseball hall of Fame on the first try Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, possibly with a record vote of close to 100 percent. Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines also were strong candidates to gain the 75 percent needed for baseball's highest honor. (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)
Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. in dugout during a baseball game Monday, April 19, 2010, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Ken Griffey, Jr, right, poses with Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig after Griffey received the Commissionerâs Historic Achievement Award before Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Ken Griffey, Jr. (top R), former Major League Baseball outfielder and Seattle Mariners special consultant, laughs at a baseball clinic for Japanese boys at Yomiuri Giants Stadium in Kawasaki, suburban Tokyo on January 15, 2012. The Mariners are scheduled to open the 2012 regular season with two games against the Oakland Aâs at the Tokyo Dome on March 28-29 in Japan. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10: Former Mariners great, Ken Griffey Jr. speaks to the crowd during a ceremony inducting him into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame prior to the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 10, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Former Major League Baseball player Ken Griffey Jr (R) talks with ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez as he photographs the Vizio Fiesta Bowl between the Arizona Wildcats and the Boise State Broncos at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 31, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 13: Ken Griffey Jr. walls out to throw the first pitch prior to the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders at the Great American Ball Park on July 13, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Griffey would end up being traded to the Cincinnati Reds months later and signed a nine-year, $116.5 million deal. After nearly a decade of playing for the team his father spent most of his career playing for, he returned to Seattle during a two-season farewell tour in 2009 and 2010. The Reds never made the playoffs with Griffey on the roster, as the superstar battled injury through much of his Reds tenure.
The Mets fell three wins short of a title in that 2000 season, losing to the New York Yankees in a Subway Series that remains a topic of contention among both fanbases today. But it's impossible not to think about what might have gone differently had Piazza and Griffey been anchoring the heart of the Mets' lineup.