With his induction into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Ken Griffey Junior looks to make history.
Not only is Junior on the verge of potentially becoming the Hall’s first unanimous selection (he’s currently at 100%), he’ll also be the first number one overall draft pick to be enshrined. But let’s not kid each other, unanimous or not, being drafted number one doesn’t necessarily mean success.
Consider this. Since the draft started in 1965, it has produced only 31 Hall of Famers.
That said…here are ten other things you might not have known about the Hall of Fame and the MLB Draft.
Mike Piazza, who we’ll assume gets in on Wednesday alongside Ken Griffey Junior, was taken in the 62rd round as a favor by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Of the 1389 players taken before him…number one pick Andy Benes, Jim Edmonds, two-sport stars Brian Jordan, Deion Sanders and Kenny Lofton and Pete Rose Jr.
In 1966, Reggie Jackson was taken second overall by the Kansas City Athletics. With the first pick, the New York Mets opted to take Steven Chilcott. The catcher from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, California bounced around for seven seasons, playing in 337 minor league games, managing a career .248 batting average and 39 home runs.
As previous stated, being drafted first overall might not always guarantee success, but for Cal Ripken Jr., being selected 48th overall was just what the doctor ordered. The “Iron Man” went on to appear in 19 All-Star Games…the most by any Hall of Famer drafted since 1965.
18 years, 6 months and 19 days
After a brief 64 game stint in the minors, 1973’s number three overall pick Robin Yount was six months shy of 19 when he made his debut as the Milwaukee Brewers starting shortstop on April 5, 1974
The pride of Alvin, Texas, Nolan Ryan, was selected in the 12th round in the inaugural 1965 draft by the New York Mets. He’d end up compiling more strikeouts (and walks) than anyone else who ever took the bump and pitching well past his 46th birthday.
Of the 31 Hall of Famers selected in the MLB Draft, only seven (Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Jim Rice, Dave Winfield, Robin Yount, Barry Larkin, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio) were taken in the first round. And of those ten, all but two were taken in the top ten. Who didn’t go top ten? Rice was taken 15th overall in 1971 and Biggio who went 22nd in 1987.
At 6’6”, Dave Winfield (selected fourth overall in 1973) is built more like a basketball or football player than a Major Leaguer. Well…following college, Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. Not only did the San Diego Padres select him, but both the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Utah Stars (ABA) selected him. And even though he never played college football, the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) selected the future baseball Hall of Famer.
Sure, the MLB Draft has produced 31 Hall of Famers, but, since the draft was implemented in 1965, 35 players have been enshrined. Of those 35…four (Tom Seaver in 1966, Bruce Sutter in 1971, Roberto Alomar in 1985 and Pedro Martinez in 1988) were left undrafted. Thankfully, they did find themselves on the receiving end of a free agent contract just after the draft.
Since it’s not a guarantee that winning multiple MVP or Cy Young Awards (I’m looking your way Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) can ensure you a ticket to Cooperstown, Mike Schmidt and Tom Seaver know that three is enough. Schmidt has more MVP Awards than anyone else drafted since 1965 and currently in the Hall of Fame.
So, yeah, 31 Hall of Famers were taken in the MLB Draft since it began in 1965, but of those 31…did you know that not one was taken number one overall? Reggie Jackson was selected the highest (second overall in 1966) and prior to Mike Piazza’s eventual election, Ryne Sandberg was selected the lowest (in the 20th round in 1978).