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Griffey, Piazza make tearful Hall of Fame entries

Monday, 25 July 2016

Mike Piazza (L) and Ken Griffey Jr. pose with their plaques at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Mike Piazza (L) and Ken Griffey Jr. pose with their plaques at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Ken Griffey Jnr and Mike Piazza made tearful speeches at their induction ceremonies into the Baseball Hall of Fame, recalling family, childhoods and even the September 11, 2001, terrorism tragedy.

The retired Major League Baseball stars were added to the shrine Sunday in ceremonies that drew 50,000 people to the small town in upstate New York known as the birthplace of the American pastime.

Each received at least 75 percent support from a panel of media voters to merit inclusion among the legends of the game.

Catcher Piazza, the second Hall of Famer whose plaque will feature a Mets cap, hit 220 home runs over more than seven seasons in New York starting in May of 1998.

But his most famous homer was the game-winning one he belted in the first New York sports event after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Many of you give me praise for the two-run home run in the first game back,” Piazza said. “But the true praise belongs to the police, firefighters, first responders, who knew that they were going to die but went forward anyway.”

Piazza also shed tears when talking about his father, Vince, a boyhood pal of Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda who helped talk Lasorda’s Los Angeles Dodgers into drafting Piazza.

“We made it, dad. The race is over,” Piazza said. “Now it’s time to smell the roses.”

Piazza said he and Griffey were joking about the speeches before taking the stage but found the experience “absolutely nerve wracking”.

“Nothing can prepare you for those emotions that you feel, because of everything the Hall encompasses and the history that was behind us on that stage,” Piazza said, noting 48 Hall of Famers on hand to watch their latest colleagues.

Griffey, who becomes the first player enshrined as a Seattle Mariner, is a father of three who stepped back into his playing days role as “The Kid” one more time, thanking the Mariners as well as the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds “for making this kid’s dream come true” as his voice broke.

Griffey pulled out his son Tevin’s baseball cap and put it on his head backwards, evoking a youthful defiance after advice from 2014 inductee Frank Thomas.

Griffey said he lost track of how many times he cried during his speech.

“I remember everybody saying ‘Don’t look down at your kids until you have to,'” Griffey said. “Nope. Not me. You know what they said when you’re a kid? ‘Don’t do that’ and you do it anyway?”

Griffey won 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards for fielding while hitting 417 homers during 13 seasons with Seattle.

“Only one team treats you best and that’s your first,” Griffey said.

Source by: AFP

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