If you were a sports fan growing up in the 1990s, like many players on the Seahawks' current roster, no matter where you were located you were likely a fan of Seattle Mariners centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr.
From The Kid's sweet left-handed swing to his beaming smile that extended from ear to ear, Junior's play was mesmerizing at the plate and in the field, and his superstar personality and presence was admired and felt by individuals across America and beyond.
"Even as a kid in L.A. you knew who Ken Griffey was," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, a Compton, California native, said earlier this year. "He's a legend, I think worldwide, for what he did on the baseball field."
Griffey became the Mariners' first player inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, cementing the one-time 12 Flag Raiser's place among the game's all-time greats. In his first year of eligibility, Griffey received 437 of 440 Hall of Fame votes (99.32 percent), the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes ever.
"To watch him be inducted, sometimes you wonder why it has to take so long," Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said with a smile in a recent interview with Q13 FOX. "He's just been a true inspiration, the way he played the game, obviously him playing with his dad. Just his swing. There's no better pure swing than Ken Griffey Jr.'s. Watching him play, even when I was in Virginia growing up, a pretty cool opportunity just to watch one of the best players to ever play."
Added Sherman: "I think that this is an incredible accomplishment, incredible for the city of Seattle. Any time you get another Hall of Famer is awesome."
Griffey, the No. 1 overall pick by Seattle in the 1987 draft, played 22 years in the majors, 13 of which were with the Mariners. He finished his career 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. He was voted a starter in 13 All-Star Games, earned 10 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger awards, and was named American League MVP in 1997 after hitting .304 with 56 home runs and 147 RBI.
"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 Seahawks receiver Kasen Williams, who "definitely knew about Ken Griffey" growing up in nearby Sammamish, Washington. "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."
As Griffey settles into Cooperstown, he leaves a lasting influence and impact not only on the baseball world, but on individuals like Wilson, who in a Players' Tribune piece described Griffey as "one of my inspirations," with Wilson appreciating the consistent effort Junior put forth in becoming one of the best.
"I think it comes back to hard work, great vision, big dreamers, and ultimately making things happen," Wilson said. "I think those type of people, those elite statuses ... they all come back to hard work and having that vision to make it happen. I aspire to be like that one day."
As 'The Kid' gets inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, take a look back at the best photos of Seattle Mariners star Ken Griffey Jr and his time with the Seahawks.