DENVER -- Although Sunday's Hall of Fame inductees, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, never played for the Rockies, both share a connection to the team, as both played against manager Walt Weiss.Weiss was in the same division as Griffey from 1987 to 1992 when Weiss played for the Athletics
DENVER -- Although Sunday's Hall of Fame inductees, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, never played for the Rockies, both share a connection to the team, as both played against manager Walt Weiss.
Weiss was in the same division as Griffey from 1987 to 1992 when Weiss played for the Athletics and Griffey with the Mariners.
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"I remember his first Spring Training when he was 19 years old," Weiss said. "He was there to get a look at him as a novelty more than anything else, a 19-year-old in Spring Training. He ends up making the team. He's 19 years old and dominating the Cactus League. And you could see it right away. You'd heard all about him. And everyone was excited to see him because there was so much hype. He lived up to every bit of the hype and then some."
Griffey was a hero to many young players currently in baseball, and his sweet swing was often imitated. That includes Rockies right fielder Carlos González.
"My bat drop is like him," Gonzalez said. "I try to stay tall like him. When I started to get older I found my own thing, but my swing is based on Griffey's swing."
Weiss also crossed paths with Piazza at several points in their career.
Piazza hit the longest home in Coors Field history, which came off Darren Holmes -- now the team's bullpen coach --- when Weiss was playing shortstop. Indirectly, Weiss said, he had something to do with the 496-foot home run.
"In LA, Holmes got a start, and I said, 'Man you've got a good changeup.'" Weiss remembers. "He didn't throw a changeup, he was a fastball-breaking ball guy. I said, 'You've got a good changeup. I think you can get Piazza with a changeup.' So in LA I think he punches out Piazza twice with changeups. I'm all fired up because I told him, and I took all the credit for it.
"Now we come back around, and we play the Dodgers at home like a week later, and I'm like, 'Hey man remember that changeup to Piazza.' He throws a changeup, and I think it's still the furthest ball that's ever been hit here. He hit it and I think he put a dent in the King Soopers sign out there. Holmes turned around and looked at me, and I was looking down kind of grooming my position, and I couldn't look at him after that one."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.