As you’ve probably heard by now, Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday evening, and rightfully so. Junior is the headliner of The Class of 2016, and will be going in alongside Mike Piazza — fittingly, the first ever No. 1 overall pick to make the HOF (Griffey) goes in with the lowest drafted player ever to make the HOF (Piazza in the 62nd round).
440 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America cast their votes, and The Kid wound up with a record breaking 99.3% — the highest percentage in history. More than Tom Seaver in 1992 (98.84%). More than Nolan Ryan in 1999 (98.79%). More than Cal Ripken Jr. in 2007 (98.53%). And even more than Ty Cobb back in 1936 (98.23%).
Griffey landed an impressive 437 total votes. But even more stunning? How did three people labeled as qualified voters and BWAA members leave Griffey off their ballots? Seriously, he’s about as clear-cut a Hall of Fame player as you can have in a single generation.
Even more impressive is the fact that Griffey’s generation was the steroid era! Who’s the one stud (seriously the only one) that’s never even been mentioned in the same breath with steroids? Ken Griffey Jr.
We’re talking about a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field that ranks sixth in MLB history with 630 career home runs. And imagine how much higher that number could have been if he hadn’t been riddled with injuries from 2001-2004 (or had he been facing pitchers that were clean like he was)? We could have been talking about the all-time HR champ in a much brighter light.
But beyond the numbers, there was always just something special about Griffey. The sweet swing. The smile. The Nikes that every kid had to have. The video game that every kid had to have. The Kid running around the outfield in Seattle, stealing fly balls from Ken Griffey Sr. The man that hit his 500th HR on Father’s Day with Senior in the crowd.
If this guy, who did everything the right way, and always was surrounded by an allure of sort, isn’t a unanimous Hall of Fame player, then it’s unlikely anyone ever will be. There are the purists who will tell you, “Well, Ty Cobb wasn’t unanimous, so nobody should be!” Like that’s a good reason to not vote for one of the greatest players in the history of our oldest and most storied game.
Aside from celebrating Griffey, the real story in hearing this news was simple: “Who the hell are the three guys that didn’t vote for him?”
I don’t want to know who they are so they can be ridiculed. The only reason I care who they are is only relative because I want to know why a player of Griffey’s caliber isn’t good enough in their eyes. Something tells me we’re going to have to wait a long time for those answers. That’s if we ever get them.
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