COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — When they were drafted nearly three decades ago, one was on everybody’s radar, the other a blip at best, picked almost as an afterthought in the final round thanks to a recommendation by an important family friend.

That their paths started so differently – the Seattle Mariners made Ken Griffey Jr. the first pick of the 1987 amateur draft and a year later the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Mike Piazza on the 62nd round with the 1,390th pick, ahead of only five other players – in the end didn’t matter one bit. Two players who wore their hats backward a lot – one for fun, the other because he had to – and left indelible imprints on the game will be rewarded Sunday with induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“It’s incredibly powerful,” said Piazza, the lowest draft pick in history elected to the Hall. “This whole year for me has been so euphoric. It’s such an honor.”

Dubbed “The Natural” for his effortless excellence at the plate and in center field, Griffey, the first No. 1 pick to be selected for enshrinement, hasn’t followed form since his selection in January. He’s been feted in Seattle, which likely still has a team because of his tenure there, served as honorary starter for the Daytona 500, and played a lot of golf to avoid thinking or talking about his induction.

When he visited Cooperstown in May for a mini-orientation, Griffey chose not to take the customary introductory tour of the Hall. He said he wanted his first walk through the stately building to be with his kids.

“I wanted to share the moment with them,” Griffey said. “It was important for me to be able to do it with them and not just by myself.”

Induction day promises to be emotional for Griffey because his mom, Birdie, and father, former Cincinnati Reds star Ken Sr., both cancer survivors, also will be part of the celebration.

Griffey played 22 seasons with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox and was named on a record 99.32 percent of ballots cast, an affirmation of sorts for his squeaky-clean performance during baseball’s Steroids Era. A 13-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, Griffey hit 630 home runs, sixth all-time, and drove in 1,836 runs.

Griffey also was named American League MVP in 1997, drove in at least 100 runs in eight seasons, and won seven Silver Slugger Awards. In the 1995 ALDS, he became just the second player ever to hit five homers in a postseason series (Reggie Jackson of the Yankees in the 1977 World Series is the other).

But fans are left to wonder what more Griffey might have accomplished had his health not become a hindrance. From 2001-04 he averaged fewer than 80 games per year while suffering through hamstring tears, knee problems, a dislocated shoulder, and ankle tendon ruptures.