BY Steve Rudman 05:40PM 01/06/2016

Hall of Fame vote: Griffey Jr. kills it, 99.3 percent

Ken Griffey Jr. earned election to the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday, becoming the first player drafted and developed by the Mariners to earn that distinction.

Ken Griffey Jr. spent 22 seasons in the majors, including 13 with the Mariners. Griffey entered the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

Ken Griffey Jr. employed the simplest of philosophies — “See ball, hit ball” — and Wednesday parlayed it into a near-unanimous election to the Hall of Fame. Based solely on receiving a record 99.3 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America, a reactionary bunch that has never considered any player flawless, Griffey will enter Cooperstown July 24 as the closest to perfect ever to play.

The 13-year Mariner (1989-99, ’09-10), always considered a shoo-in for enshrinement when he reached his first year of eligibility (he is the 51st first-ballot HOF member), was named on 437 of 440 ballots (the three naysayers have yet to turn themselves in for a well-deserved public flogging). The only other player elected to the Class of 2016 was catcher Mike Piazza, a 12-time All-Star who received 83 percent of the vote.

Edgar Martinez received 43.4 percent of the vote, his best showing. / Mariners

Wednesday would have been almost too big to absorb if Griffey’s former teammate, Edgar Martinez, had been able to join Griffey among baseball’s immortals. But Martinez, on the ballot for the seventh time, again fell short of the required 75 percent. However, he received 43.4 percent, which bodes well: It marked Martinez’s highest percentage during his time on the ballot.

“I’m happy and shocked,” said Griffey on MLB Network. “I’m happy that I get to be in such an elite club. I want to thank the writers for punching my name. I’m shocked, because anytime anybody does something for you, it means a lot.

“When I came up to the Mariners, I was a teenager and just wanted to play baseball. I didn’t have an understanding of the media and fans, having just come from high school. I knew I could play baseball, but it was an adjustment getting to know people and growing up.”

Griffey mentioned that he played in three Hall of Fame games in Cooperstown, NY., in recent years but never visited the Hall of Fame — on purpose.

“I am really superstitious,” he said. “I didn’t want to set foot in the place until I was in the Hall of Fame. The only time I wanted to go there was as a member.”

In a statement, Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said: “On behalf of everyone associated with the Seattle Mariners, congratulations to Ken Griffey Jr. on his election today to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This is a great day for Mariners fans and really all baseball fans to celebrate his outstanding career and love of the game.

“In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Ken should be applauded, along with his teammates, for solidifying Major League Baseball in Seattle and the Northwest, and for being a wonderful family man who has given generously to local and national charitable causes, in particular helping young people.”


Highest Percentage of Hall of Fame Vote

Player Year Pct. Skinny
Ken Griffey Jr. 2016 99.32 630 home runs, 13-time All-Star, 10 Gold Gloves
Tom Seaver 1992 98.84 311 victories, 3 Cy Youngs, 12-time All-Star
Nolan Ryan 1999 98.79 324 wins, record 5,714 strikeouts, 7 no-hitters
Cal Ripken 2007 98.53 Two-time MVP, 19-time All-Star, 3,184 hits
Ty Cobb 1936 98.23 4,189 hits, 12-time batting champ, 1911 AL MVP
George Brett 1999 98.19 3,154 hits, 13-time All-Star, 2-time bat champ
Hank Aaron 1982 97.83 3,771 hits, 755 homers, 25-time All-Star
Tony Gwynn 2007 97.61 8 NL bat titles, .338 average, 15-time All-Star
Randy Johnson 2015 97.27 303 wins, 5 Cy Youngs, no-hitter, perfect game
Greg Maddux 2014 97.20 355 wins, 2.18 career ERA (3rd), 4 Cy Youngs
Mike Schmidt 1995 96.52 548 home runs, 10 Gold Gloves, 3 MVPs


Griffey created a fashion trend by wearing his cap backwards. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

Griffey showed Hall of Fame potential as a teenager in the late 1980s. By 1997, he was practically a lock for election. Everybody could see that. In fact, there was even speculation around the Kingdome batting cage as early as 1997 that Griffey had a chance to become a unanimous Hall of Famer. By 1999, when Griffey left Seattle for Cincinnati, the only question was how high could he go. He was already well on track to become the most productive long-ball hitter in history.

A series of injuries over the next seven seasons ultimately prevented that, “limiting” Griffey to 630 (sixth all-time and 417 for Seattle) home runs to go with a unanimous MVP (1997), an All-Star Game MVP (1992), 13 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves and seven Silver Slugger awards. But Griffey was bigger than his staggering numbers.

His infectious personality and prodigious performances, at the plate and in center field, kept a dithering Mariners franchise afloat from 1989 through the mid-1990s. By late 1995, when it seemed inevitable the Mariners would decamp to Florida or northern Virginia, Griffey came to the rescue.

With the Mariners languishing 11 games behind the Angels in the AL West Aug. 24, Griffey bashed a ninth-inning, two-run homer off the Yankees’ John Wetteland. The victory sparked an improbable six-week rally that culminated in Seattle’s first AL West title.

The run that Griffey scored to beat the Yankees in the ALDS Oct. 8, roaring from first to home on a looping double to right by Martinez, saved major league baseball for Seattle, sparking action by Gov. Mike Lowry and the state Legislature that resulted in the construction of Safeco Field.

Griffey not only awed on the diamond, he did so with no hint of connection to MLB’s long-running scandal over performance enhancing drugs that ultimately engulfed the careers of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens, among a multitude of others.

Griffey also changed street fashion in America by wearing his baseball cap backward, reflective of his playful personality. He once paid off a steak-dinner bet to manager Lou Piniella by leaving a cow in Pinella’s spring training office. He also occasionally fed fake stories to the media just to laugh at the reaction.

“We love Ken Griffey Jr.,” Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson famously said during Griffey’s prime years in Seattle. “He is everything we would like to be. He’s young, he’s good-looking, he’s got the best smile in the world and he’s a heroic athlete. He is a shot in the arm for baseball. He is what the game needs. He is creating excitement and making headlines just by his presence.There hasn’t been anyone like that since . . . me.”


Griffey Jr.’s career highlights and major moments



“I used to enjoy going to the ballpark every day because I knew something special was going to happen. Junior was an absolute pleasure, a God-send, an enormous talent. I told our coaches, just let him play, let him play. To be voted to the Hall of Fame is one thing. But 100 percent? That’s the ultimate tribute” — Jim Lefebvre, Griffey’s first manager in Seattle.

“First, I want to congratulate Ken on his election today. Both as a teammate and as a player, it was obvious that he was a Hall of Famer. The news today isn’t a surprise, but it is well deserved. For me, I am really encouraged, and thankful, in the increase of votes. I certainly didn’t expect to be elected today, but it is always a little disappointing when it becomes official. Although, I’m so happy for Ken that makes it a little easier” — Edgar Martinez, on Griffey’s election and his own vote total.

“I loved competing against him and I loved being around him” — John Smoltz, Hall of Famer, Class of 2015.

“I’ve never seen a swing to equal his. I grew up with him. He’s like a brother. The excitement for me on this day is astronomical” — Harold Reynolds, former teammate and MLB Network broadcaster.

“Griffey’s grace and power were unmatched. It is an honor to have Ken Griffey Jr. join us in the Hall of Fame” — Johnny Bench.

“If anybody was going to break my record, it had to be Ken Griffey Jr. He is most deserving” — Tom Seaver, after Griffey collected 99.3 percent of the HOF vote, eclipsing Seaver’s previous mark of 98.84.


Griffey’s career with — and without — the Mariners

Category Mariners MLB Total Skinny
Seasons 13 22 1989-10 with Mariners, Reds, White Sox
At-Bats 6317 9801 3rd all-time in club history (Ichiro, E. Martinez)
Runs 1113 1662 Led majors with 125 in 1997 MVP season
Hits 1843 2781 Ranks 3rd in club history (Ichiro, E. Martinez)
HRs 417 630 Hit 56 in both 1997 and 1998 seasons for M’s
RBIs 1216 1836 Topped majors with club-record 147 in 1997
Bat Avg. .292 .284 Career high .323 (with 40 HRs) in 1994
OBP .374 .370 Still ranks sixth in franchise history (Edgar, .418)
SLG .553 .538 Topped the majors with .646 in 1997
OPS .927 .907 Ranks No. 3 in club history (A. Rod, E. Martinez)
WAR 70 83.6 M’s top 3: Griffey, Edgar (68), Ichiro (56)

Martinez took a huge jump in Hall of Fame support by named on 43.4 percent of the ballots. His previous totals: 36.2 (2010), 32.9 (2011), 36.5 (2012), 35.9 (2013), 25.5 (2014), 27.0 (2015).





  • 1coolguy

    Steve – Please find out who the Three Stooges are and let the world know.

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    • art thiel

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  • MrPrimeMinister

    Let it be known that the mariners best years happened pretty much directly after he left. Yes as a fan of the team both of his departures from this city left much to be desired.

    • art thiel

      I’m aware of the minority dissenters in this market who can’t get over the lousy exits to appreciate the opportunity to witness greatness.

      • Trygvesture

        Hard to imagine being so small minded as to have Griff’s once-in-a-millenium’s achievments on the field be overshadowed by his exit. Who do you know that has a perfect performance at work? Who hasn’t gotten sideways or made a less than PR-Perfect decision, noticed or unnoticed? Who would say the company did better after their best-ever employee in the history of the industry left– with the implication the employee didn’t contribute significantly? Amazing to say that in light of this franchise and it’s pathetic performance and incompetent leadership over the years. Look at the who’s in the Hall. I don’t remember Ty Cobb as being anything but mean spirited nor was he involved in starting and supporting charities or other good works without fanfare. Nobody from the game came to his funeral, or so the story goes. Ernie Banks? First ballot selection; never played in a post season game! Look at the list– it’s full of a bunch of humans whose commonality is their athletic prowess in the game. How their team did when they left or how they left the game (look at Ruth—pathetic, really) is of no matter.

        I’d guess that in Griff’s case only those who weren’t there, or choose to remain cynical to the point of ignorance wouldn’t see greatness deserving of his 99.3%.

        • Jamo57

          I was 9 when Sandy Koufax retired. He held a press conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel, if I remember correctly. It was attended by the LA media, Sandy, and his agent. No representatives from the Dodgers were present, as the story goes, because Walter O’Malley still resented that Koufax and Drysdale had held out together and hired agents to represent them in negotiations.

          Can you imagine such disrespect? Baseball history is filled with people with personal shortcomings. It’s probably wise to just enjoy what happens between the foul lines or one would sour on the sport altogether.

  • jafabian

    If the voters who didn’t vote for Junior voted instead for Bonds, McGwire, Sosa or Clemens something’s rotten in Denmark.

    • art thiel

      It’s why journalists should not be the award-givers in another industry.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        If not journalists, then fans(huge joke), other players(rife with bias), or a computer(see NCAA FBS system of a few years ago.) Journalists best imo.

        • Trygvesture

          Not all voters are necessarily primarily schooled in the game or even baseball writers as their main occupation.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        While.7 is minuscule the fact it was not unanimous is eye brow raising indeed….

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