Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Ken Griffey Jr. Could Beat Cal Ripken Jr. In Hall of Fame Voting


NEW YORK (AP) -- Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday with the highest voting percentage ever, and Mike Piazza will join him in Cooperstown this summer.

A star slugger of the Steroids Era never tainted by accusations of drug use, Griffey was on 437 of 440 votes in his first appearance on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. His 99.3 percentage topped the previous mark of 98.84, set when Tom Seaver appeared on 425 of 430 ballots in 1992.

There had been speculation Griffey could become the first unanimous selection.

"I can't be upset. It's just an honor to be elected and to have the highest percentage is definitely a shock," Griffey said on a conference call.

After falling 28 shy last year, Piazza received 365 votes in his fourth time on the ballot and will be inducted along with Griffey on July 24.

"Incredibly special. Wow," Piazza said on a call with MLB Network.

"I sat here with my mouth on the floor," he said.

A player needs 75 percent to gain election, and Jeff Bagwell missed by 15 votes and Tim Raines by 23. Trevor Hoffman, on the ballot for the first time, was 34 short.

The vote total dropped by 109 from last year because writers who have not been active for 10 years lost their votes under new rules.

KEN GRIFFEY JR. THROUGH THE YEARS:

10 PHOTOS
Ken Griffey Jr. through his career
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Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
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)
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)
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)
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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There were significant increases for a pair of stars accused of steroids use. Roger Clemens rose to 45 percent and Barry Bonds to 44 percent, both up from about 37 percent last year.

Mark McGwire, who admitted using steroids, received 12 percent in his 10th and final ballot appearance.

"They were Hall of Famers before all this stuff started," Griffey said on MLB Network.

Half of baseball's top 10 home run hitters are not in the Hall: Bonds (762), Alex Rodriguez (654), Jim Thome (612), Sosa (609) and McGwire (583). Rodriguez, who served a yearlong drug suspension in 2014, remains active. Thome's first appearance on the ballot will be in 2018.

Curt Schilling rose from 39 percent to 52, Edgar Martinez from 27 percent to 43 and Mike Mussina from 25 percent to 43.

Griffey was known simply as "Junior" by many as a contrast to his father, three-time All-Star outfielder Ken Griffey, who played alongside him in Seattle during 1990 and '91. The younger Griffey became a 13-time All-Star outfielder and finished with 630 homers, which is sixth on the career list. After reaching the major leagues in 1989, he was selected for 11 consecutive All-Star Games in 1990.

Now, he's headed to Cooperstown.

"In case you don't know, I'm really superstitious. I've played in the Hall of Fame game three times and I've never set foot in the building. I've never even seen the front of it," Griffey said. "The one time I wanted to go in there, I wanted to be a member."

Wanting to play closer to his home in Florida, he pushed for a trade to Cincinnati - his father's old team and the area he grew up in- after the 1999 season. But slowed by injuries, he never reached 100 RBIs again after his first season with the Reds, and he moved on to the Chicago White Sox in 2008 before spending his last season-plus with the Mariners.

While Griffey was selected first in the 1987 amateur draft and became the first No. 1 to make the Hall, Piazza was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 1,390th pick on the 62nd round in 1998. Since the draft started in 1965, the lowest draft pick elected to the Hall was John Smoltz, taken with selection 574 on the 22nd round in 1985.

Piazza became the top offensive catcher in big league history, hitting better than .300 in nine straight seasons and finishing with 427 home runs, including a record 396 when he was in the game behind the plate. He was a 12-time All-Star with a .308 career batting average.

MIKE PIAZZA THROUGH THE YEARS:

2 PHOTOS
Mike Piazza through his career
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Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Former New York Mets Mike Piazza waves before throwing out the first pitch prior to Game Three of the 2015 World Series between the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals at Citi Field on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
24 Jul 1993: Catcher Mike Piazza of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during a game against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn /Allsport
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After reaching the major leagues with the Dodgers in 1992, Piazza was dealt to Florida in May 1998 before he could become a free agent, then traded eight days later to the Mets. He remained with New York through 2005, hitting a memorable go-ahead home-run in the first game in the city following the 2001 terrorist attacks, then finished with San Diego in 2006 and Oakland the following year.

Piazza and Bagwell were drawn into the steroids controversy by some who pointed out their powerful physiques, but both have denied using performance-enhancing drugs and no substantive accusations have been made.

NOTES: Alan Trammell received 41 percent in his final ballot appearance.

Data curated by PointAfter
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