Hall of Famer's swing, athleticism made him a transcendent talent
By Matt Kelly
From a childhood spent around the clubhouse of the Big Red Machine to being blessed with one of the sweetest left-handed swings the game has seen, Ken Griffey Jr. seemed destined for stardom.
Griffey faced his own pressures along the way, including the weight of being the son of a former All-Star and a No. 1 overall Draft pick of a then-struggling franchise in Seattle. But from the moment he started dazzling fans at age 19, the natural talent of the man nicknamed "The Kid" quickly rose to the surface.
Griffey's incredible combination of power, speed and athleticism -- and the way he made it all look so easy -- made him perhaps the preeminent baseball star of the 1990s. It also has him standing on the precipice of the game's greatest honor: Induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.
Coverage begins on MLB Network and MLB.com at 11 a.m. ET Sunday, with the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies getting underway live at 1:30.
Before he receives his plaque Sunday in upstate New York, here are 10 things you should know about the Hall of Fame career of Griffey:
• Griffey was born in Donora, Pa. (population: approximately 4,980), the same hometown as Hall of Famer Stan Musial. Remarkably, Musial and Griffey also share the same birthday. Musial was born on Nov. 21, 1920, and Griffey was born on the same day 49 years later.
• Since the MLB Draft began in 1965, Griffey is the first No. 1 overall pick to earn enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. In doing so, Griffey surpasses Reggie Jackson (the No. 2 overall choice of the Kansas City Athletics in 1966) as the highest-drafted Hall of Famer.
• Griffey and his father, Ken Sr., became the first father-son tandem to play for the same team in the same game when they both suited up for the Mariners on Aug. 31, 1990. Since then, only one other father-son duo (Tim Raines and Tim Raines Jr. in 2001) has played in the same Major League contest.
On Sept. 14, just two weeks later, Ken Griffey Sr. hit a two-run home run off the Angels' Kirk McCaskill in the first inning of a game in Anaheim. In the next at-bat, Griffey Jr. followed with a homer of his own, making the Griffeys the first (and still the only) father and son to homer in the same game.
• While playing 14 seasons in the American League and nine more in the National League, Griffey homered in 44 ballparks. Only six other players in history have hit a home run in at least 40 stadiums, and Griffey's total of 44 ranks second behind only Sammy Sosa's 45.
• Griffey is the first member of the Hall of Fame to record seasons with at least 40 home runs for a team in both leagues. He reached the 40-homer plateau six times with the Mariners (1993-94, '96-99) and once with the Reds (2000).
• Griffey is the fifth winner of the Home Run Derby to be enshrined to the Hall of Fame, joining Derby winners Andre Dawson (1985), Ryne Sandberg ('90), Cal Ripken Jr. ('91) and Frank Thomas ('95). Griffey, who won the Derby three times (1994, '98 and '99), is the first multiple time winner of the event to be inducted in Cooperstown.
• Griffey, along with fellow Class of 2016 inductee Mike Piazza, is one of 35 position players in the Hall of Fame who were named to the All-Star Game in at least 12 seasons. Griffey was voted to the All-Star starting lineup 13 times, trailing only Ripken (17) and Rod Carew (15) among members of the Hall of Fame fraternity.
• In 1997, Griffey won his lone AL MVP Award in a season in which he led the league with 393 total bases. That wound up being the third-highest number recorded by a center fielder in a season, trailing only Hall of Famers Hack Wilson's 423 in 1930 and Joe DiMaggio's 418 in '37.
• Griffey was just as electric in the field as he was at the plate. His 10 Gold Glove Awards are tied with Andruw Jones for the second-most Gold Gloves won by a center fielder -- behind only the great Willie Mays, who won 12.
• Though he played for three franchises, Griffey's 417 home runs and countless memories in Seattle made the Mariners a natural choice to be represented on the cap he will wear on his Hall of Fame plaque. Griffey is the first player to don a Mariners cap on his plaque, following Class of 2015 members Craig Biggio (Astros) and Randy Johnson (D-backs) and Class of 2011 member Roberto Alomar (Blue Jays) as recent inductees who have introduced their clubs to the Hall's iconic Plaque Gallery.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.