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When Griffey, Piazza crossed paths in Baltimore 23 years ago

It was 23 years ago when baseball's newest Hall of Fame electees crossed paths in Baltimore.

Ken Griffey Jr. was already an established star. Mike Piazza was a 24-year-old on his way to the National League Rookie of the Year award.

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There they were in the 1993 Home Run Derby, when baseball's best sluggers came to year-old Oriole Park at Camden Yards, testing both Eutaw Street and the confines of the left field seats.

Griffey made the headlines, clearing Eutaw Street with one ball that struck the first level of the B&O Warehouse in right field. Piazza — who would hit 35 homers for the Dodgers that year — was shut out, the only one of the eight participants to go without a home run.

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In his fifth big league season, Griffey went on to smack 45 home runs in 1993. He didn't win that contest, though.

Juan Gonzalez, the Rangers' slugger, ultimately won the trophy, defeating Griffey with some insanely long blasts, including one into the upper deck in left field.

The lineup for that contest was impressive.

Cecil Fielder, Albert Belle, Gonzalez and Griffey for the American League; Piazza, David Justice, Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds for the National League.

It's possible though, that only Griffey and Piazza reach the Hall from that group. Only Bonds, it would seem, stands any chance at reaching Cooperstown. But his numbers are tainted by his connections to the performance enhancing drug era that would elevate the game's home run statistics.

That derby remains one of the more memorable in history, if only for Griffey's shot — while wearing his trademark backwards cap — off the brick building looming over right field. It's still the only ball to hit the warehouse.

The next night, eventual Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett won the MVP in the only All-Star Game played at Camden Yards. But one of the most memorable moments for Orioles fans came from a player who didn't even appear in the game.

Mike Mussina was warming in the bullpen late in the game, and Orioles fans would vilify Toronto manager Cito Gaston for not inserting the then-Orioles ace to close the American League victory in his home park.

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Mussina was left to watch and wonder on Wednesday, too, when — despite a significant jump in voter support — he was still well shy of attaining a spot alongside Griffey and Piazza in the Class of 2016.


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