Griffey Jr. heads Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2016

Wed Jan 6, 2016 8:31pm EST
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(Reuters) - Ken Griffey Jr., whose timeless swing and grace in the outfield made him one of the most exciting players in baseball history, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in voting results announced on Wednesday.

Griffey, in his first year of eligibility, got a record 99.3 percent of the vote of Baseball Writers' Association of America members, easily surpassing the required 75 percent needed for induction into the Cooperstown, New York-based baseball shrine.

He will be joined in the Class of 2016 by power hitter Mike Piazza, a 12-time All-Star and former rookie of the year who owns the Major League Baseball (MLB) record for most home runs by a catcher with 396.

When told via telephone that he had earned 437 votes of the 440 cast, the highest percentage in an election that dates to 1936, a visibly excited Griffey said on the MLB Network: "I'm a little nervous now.

"I'm happy that I get to be in such an elite club ... and shocked because any time somebody else (the baseball writers) does something for you it means a lot."

Griffey then spoke about superstition, saying that he had played in the Hall of Fame game three times without once setting a foot in the building.

"I've gone directly from the field to the hotel and the hotel to the bus and never looked at the front of it (the building) because the one time I wanted to go in there, I wanted to be a member of it," he smiled.

Piazza, who spent the bulk of his career with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, was elected in his fourth year of eligibility a year after falling just short of the 75 percent threshold required for election.

Griffey, whose father was an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, was known as "The Kid" but his accomplishments stood on their own after becoming the first pick of the 1987 draft and breaking into the league two years later as a 19-year-old.   Continued...

Ken Griffey Jr. bunts the ball during spring training camp in 2010.    REUTERS/Rick Scuteri