Seattle Mariners

Mariners Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez await results from Hall of Fame voting

Former Mariners centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. speaks at a news conference following a luncheon in his honor Aug. 9, 2013.
Former Mariners centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. speaks at a news conference following a luncheon in his honor Aug. 9, 2013. AP file, 2013

The wait is almost over for Ken Griffey Jr., while Edgar Martinez is seeking a sign that his ongoing wait might yet produce a happy ending.

The Hall of Fame will announce the results of its 2016 balloting at 3 p.m. Wednesday on MLB Network, which will also be streamed live at www.mlb.com.

Griffey, 46, is in his first year of eligibility in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America but is viewed as a shoo-in to reach the required 75 percent threshold for election.

As such, Griffey would become the first player elected to the Hall of Fame in recognition largely for achievements while playing for the Mariners. He spent 13 of his 22 big-league seasons with the club.

Like most of the 32 candidates on this year’s ballot, Griffey kept a low profile during the balloting process, which ran from Nov. 9 to Dec. 24.

“I played baseball because I loved it,” Griffey once said regarding post-career honors. “It wasn’t to get an award. It’s because I wanted to go out there each and every day and play as hard as I can.

“It’s something I loved to do.”

Long-time Mariners ace Randy Johnson was elected last year, but his Hall of Fame plaque depicts him in an Arizona cap.

The voting panel consists of 10-year members of the BBWAA, and it was trimmed this year to include only those who have actively covered baseball within the past 10 years.

Election requires a candidate be cited on at least 75 percent of the returned ballots. Roughly 450 returned ballots are anticipated.

Players must be have played at least 10 years and be retired for five years to be eligible for the ballot. Those who receive 5 percent of the vote remain on the ballot. They can remain on the ballot for a maximum of 10 years.

Martinez, 53, was Griffey’s longtime teammate, but he spent his entire 18-year career with the Mariners. An All-Star in seven seasons, he is in his seventh year on the Hall of Fame ballot.

“I’m a little encouraged that it went up a little bit (over the previous year),” Martinez said last year after receiving 27 percent, “but I knew it was going to be very difficult.”

It remains difficult, but there are hopeful signs. While Martinez has never topped 36.5 percent, there are indications he could be poised this year for a major jump in support.

Roughly one-third of the BBWAA’s voting members have revealed their ballots, and a running tabulation by Ryan Thibodaux showed Martinez at 46.2 percent as of Tuesday night.

Such a jump could position Martinez to make a serious push for election in his three remaining years of eligibility.

“If you're talking about putting the best players in the Hall of Fame,” former teammate Mike Cameron said this week on MLB Radio, “this is one of your best players.”

Thibodaux’s running count showed Griffey cited on every revealed ballot. The highest percentage ever received in BBWAA balloting was 98.8 by pitcher Tom Seaver in 1992.

Revealed ballots also had Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines tracking above the 75-percent threshold. They were the three top vote-getters last year who failed to gain election.

Reliever Trevor Hoffman ranked second to Griffey among the 15 first-time candidates at 62.6 percent of the revealed votes.

The only sure thing, it appears, is Griffey. Anyone elected Wednesday will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame in a July 24 ceremony near the museum in Cooperstown, New York.

“When we were in Seattle together,” former Mariners manager Lou Piniella once said, “I believe he was the best player in baseball and it was truly an honor to be his manager.”

Griffey played for the Mariners from 1989-99 before a trade sent him to the Cincinnati Reds. He spent eight-plus seasons in Cincinnati and part of one year with the Chicago White Sox before returning to the Mariners.

Of his 630 career homers, Griffey hit 417 while playing for the Mariners. He also made 10 of his 13 All-Star appearances as a Mariner and was picked in 1997 as the American League’s Most Valuable Player.

The Mariners inducted Griffey into their Hall of Fame in 2013.

“I tell them Jay (Buhner) and Edgar were the heart and soul of (those teams),” Griffey said at the time. “I was just the pretty face.”

The numbers say otherwise ... and Griffey’s appeal always extended beyond the numbers.

“I mean, he was Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, he was Ted Williams,” former teammate Harold Reynolds said. “He meant as much to baseball as any of those guys did.

“I know when we went on the road, we were constantly sold out, and people wanted to see Junior.”

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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