Ken Griffey Jr. placed a National Baseball Hall of Fame cap with the brim facing backward upon his head and tried to hold back the tears as he looked beyond the podium, the tens of thousands in attendance roaring in applause.He was enshrined amongst the greatest players to play the
Ken Griffey Jr. placed a National Baseball Hall of Fame cap with the brim facing backward upon his head and tried to hold back the tears as he looked beyond the podium, the tens of thousands in attendance roaring in applause.
He was enshrined amongst the greatest players to play the game. It was his moment. His dream had come true.
It's time for the newest class of Hall of Famers -- Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines -- to take their place at the podium, the same one "The Kid" stood behind this time last year, and tell the story of their remarkable baseball journeys.
:: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::
MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."
Both Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, baseball's two Hall of Fame inductees in 2016, touched the souls of baseball fans across the nation with heartfelt speeches that rivaled some of the best in induction history.
Griffey, the first overall pick by the Mariners in 1987, and Piazza, a 62nd-round selection by the Dodgers in 1988, could not have had their careers start on more different ends of the spectrum. And yet, 30-plus years later, both men shared that same stage, having achieved baseball immortality.
"The only thing [Griffey and I] have in common is two arms and two legs," Piazza quipped. But there was one other thing: the role their fathers played in helping them become great.
"My father's faith in me, often greater than my own, is the single most important factor of me being inducted into this Hall of Fame," Piazza said.
"My dad taught me how to play the game," said Griffey, struggling to utter the words as he choked up. "But more importantly, he taught me to be a man."
From Griffey and Piazza's tributes to Kirby Puckett's inspirational address and Ted Williams' admiration for the stars of the Negro Leagues, there have been countless memorable Hall of Fame speeches delivered over the years.
"I want you to remember the guiding principles of my life," Puckett said. "You can be what you want to be if you believe in yourself and you work hard because anything, and I'm telling you anything, is possible."
Rodriguez, Bagwell and Raines now take their turns on the stage in Cooperstown, shedding light on their voyage to achieving baseball's highest personal honor.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.