The small village of Cooperstown, New York saw a major influx of fans this past weekend, eager to take part in the Baseball Hall of Fame festivites to honor two of baseball’s greats and the legacies they instilled in the game.
One was Mike Piazza. Baseball fans (and especially Mets fans) have long argued that Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher to ever play, and his induction to the Hall makes that claim all but ironclad.
The other inductee was Ken Griffey Jr.—or, as his plaque read, George Kenneth Griffey Jr.
Naturally, the player nicknamed “The Kid” would never go by such a formal name, even as his career-defining antics on the diamond were immortalized in Cooperstown on Sunday. Griffey was known for playing the game with heart, a “sweet swing,” and “winning smile.” The accolades enscribed on his plaque hardly do his legacy justice. The Kid was inducted to the Hall with the largest percentage of BBWAA votes (99.3) ever.
During his acceptance speech, Griffey reflected on the moments that highlighted his triumphant career. He touched on his Mariners’ 1995 playoff push, the teammates that mentored him throughout the years, and the joy of playing alongside his dad. (Men’s Fitness spent some time with both Griffey Jr. and Sr. this past Father’s Day—check the piece out here.)
After an emotional speech, Junior grabbed his Hall of Fame cap, put it on—backwards of course—and flashed his iconic smile.
History had come for the Kid, but it hadn’t changed him.