There was never much doubt — was there? — that Ken Griffey Jr. would be wearing a Mariners cap this July when he enters the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Well, now it’s official.
“I’m going to go into the (Hall of Fame) weekend with a Seattle Mariners hat on,” Griffey confirmed Thursday at a news conference in New York.
“I played 13 years in Seattle, which is longer than the other two teams I played for — Chicago (White Sox) and Cincinnati. I think I did most of my damage as a Mariner.”
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Second question: Will Griffey wear the cap forward or backward?
“Forward,” he declared before pausing. “And then backwards.”
Griffey, 46, won election Wednesday to the Hall of Fame by garnering a record 99.3 percent of the vote in balloting by 440 qualified members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The previous record was 98.4 percent in 1992. Griffey missed by three votes from being a unanimous selection.
Catcher Mike Piazza also was elected, with 83 percent, and will join Griffey in the July 24 ceremony as the 311th and 312th members of the Hall of Fame.
Piazza said he would enter the Hall as a New York Met. He spent eight of his 16 seasons with the Mets after starting his career with seven years with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Griffey is the first player elected to the Hall of Fame primarily because of his achievements as a Mariner, and his plaque will be the first showing a Mariners cap.
“You want to be the first in a lot of things,” he said, “and to be able to wear a Mariners hat and be the first Mariner to ever go into the Hall of Fame … I think that’s part of the decision I needed to make.
“I felt that being 19, they gave me an opportunity to play the game that I love. I spent most of my time in Seattle.”
Griffey is scheduled to join Piazza on Friday morning for the opening of trading on Wall Street.
Plans call for Griffey to fly to Seattle for a Friday afternoon news conference at Safeco Field amid speculation that the Mariners will use the occasion to announce that they will retire his No. 24.
The holidays are over, and Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is back in the swing with some new roster moves.
The Mariners signed right-handed reliever Ryan Cook to a one-year deal Thursday —only hours after releasing right-hander Anthony Bass in accordance with his desire to pursue an opportunity to pitch in Japan.
Cook, 28, struggled last season at Oakland and Boston, and spent much of the season in the minors. He compiled a 2.77 ERA in 208 relief outings for the Athletics from 2011-14.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Ryan in a Mariners uniform,” Dipoto said. “He remains just 28 years old and is just one season removed from being one of the more effective setup relievers in the American League.
“His presence enhances both our bullpen depth and overall upside.”
Cook agreed to a $1.1 million nonguaranteed deal that includes $300,000 in performance bonuses based on games pitched. He gets $300,000 if sent to the minors.
An All-Star in 2012, when he went 6-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 71 appearances, Cook struggled last year in spring training and opened the season in the minors.
After returning to the Athletics in late April, Cook made only four appearances — and allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings — before returning to Triple-A Nashville.
Boston acquired Cook in a July 31 deal, but he fared even worse, allowing 14 runs in 4 1/3 innings over five outings. He gave up five runs in two-thirds of an inning in an Aug. 15 game against the Mariners at Fenway Park.
The Mariners released Bass less than two months after a Nov. 16 trade brought him and outfielder Leonys Martin from Texas in a trade for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, outfielder James Jones and utilityman Pat Kivlehan.
Bass was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA last season in 33 relief appearances for the Rangers, and was expected to compete this spring for a middle-relief job in the Mariners’ bullpen. He was unsigned and eligible for arbitration after making $750,000 in 2015.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners