A long-time Seattle sports icon was assured of his game's highest honor on Wednesday afternoon, when former Mariners centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. was announced as part of the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame class.
His Hall of Fame induction was widely expected and comes in what was his first year of eligibility. Griffey, the No. 1 overall pick by Seattle in the 1987 draft, played 22 years in the majors, 13 of which came with the Mariners. He finished his playing career roughly five years ago in June of 2010 with a .284 batting average, .370 on-base percentage, 2,781 hits, 630 home runs (the sixth-most in MLB history), 1,662 runs, and 1,836 RBI in 2,671 career games.
"That's incredible," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said of Griffey's illustrious career. "Even as a kid in L.A. you knew who Ken Griffey was. He's a legend, I think worldwide, for what he did on the baseball field."
Griffey appeared in 13 All-Star Games during his career and was voted a starter in every one of them. He earned 10 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger awards, and was the choice for American League MVP in 1997 when he batted .304, hit 56 home runs, and recorded 147 RBI. He led the AL in homers four times (1994, 1997-99) and hit .290 with six home runs and 11 RBI in 18 postseason games, including five homers and the series-clinching run over the New York Yankees in the memorable 1995 American League Division Series.
Seahawks wide receiver Kasen Williams, who grew up in nearby Sammamish, Wash., admitted he wasn't much of a baseball fan during his youth, but "definitely knew about Ken Griffey," with Williams even wearing his hat backwards at times in an attempt to look like 'The Kid.'
"All I know is that people like that, I'd be invested in their mindset, like how did they approach each day, and Ken Griffey was someone that seemed like he approached each day and took it as a challenge," said Williams. "Every single day there's a challenge for him to get better, and because he won those challenges each day to himself in his own mind, he ended up becoming one of the greatest, and he was able to do that consistently, which was pretty remarkable."
And although Griffey played nearly nine seasons for the Reds in his hometown of Cincinnati, he'll don a Mariners cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, making him the team's first player to be inducted.
"I think that this is an incredible accomplishment, incredible for the city of Seattle," said Sherman. "Any time you get another Hall of Famer is awesome."
Junior garnered 437 of 440 Hall of Fame votes (99.32 percent), the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes ever, topping the 98.84 percent Tom Seaver received in 1992. Outside of Griffey, Mike Piazza was the only other individual elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2016.