CINCINNATI -- Saturday was an emotional and celebratory day at Great American Ball Park, as Reds legends gathered to honor the four players that will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Cincinnati's Induction Class of 2014 was lauded in a pregame ceremony on the field, with longtime Reds radio broadcaster Marty Brennaman serving as the master of ceremonies. Ken Griffey Jr., Dave Parker and Ron Oester reflected on what it meant to play for the city they each grew up in, as well as how it felt to join an already star-studded group of 75 Reds Hall of Fame members.
"I had a chance to wear the same uniform that my dad wore," an emotional Griffey Jr. said at the podium situated next to a plaque for each new inductee, including 19th-century first baseman Jake Beckley. "And I think that's the most important thing."
Griffey's father, Ken Griffey Sr., was among 21 Reds Hall of Famers on hand.
"I know it means a lot to him because this is where he grew up," the elder Griffey told MLB.com. "I knew this was the only place he wanted to play after Seattle, and it's just a big honor for me and for him to be in the Reds Hall of Fame together, because we're the only father and son in there, which makes it even more pleasant for both of us."
Griffey Jr. was one of the most prolific home run hitters of all-time, as well as one of the greatest defensive center fielders in baseball history. He is sixth on the career home run list with 630, and he earned 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1990-99. He was the 1997 American League MVP while with the Mariners, and he was a 13-time All-Star.
But his baseball life began in the Queen City. Junior spent much of his childhood in the clubhouse with the Big Red Machine teams of the mid-1970's, watching his father and greats such as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Dave Concepcion lead Cincinnati to back-to-back World Series titles in 1975-76.
Griffey was drafted by the Mariners in 1987 out of Cincinnati's Moeller High School, and following 11 seasons in Seattle, he joined the Reds in 2000. He hit 210 homers in the nine seasons he spent with his hometown club.
"It's the ultimate goal as an individual player, to be in the Hall of Fame," he said in a pre-ceremony news conference. "To be in the Hall of Fame where you grew up is no different. And to be in the Reds Hall of Fame with my dad is special because of all the things he taught me as a kid."
Parker also grew up in Cincinnati and was drafted by the Pirates out of Courter Tech High School in 1970.
"I grew up a street over from Crosley Field," Parker said of the Reds' former home. "As a kid I used to play stickball against the wall, and after that, we moved to a place called Cumminsville, where I played my first organized baseball."
Parker was one of the most feared sluggers of his era, and in four seasons with the Reds was a two-time All-Star, as well as Cincinnati's team MVP from 1984-1986. He had one of the best offensive seasons in Reds history in '85, batting .312 with a league-leading 125 RBIs. He finished second in the NL with 34 homers that year.
Parker now suffers from Parkinson's disease, and he has established a charity, Dave Parker 39 Foundation, to help fight the illness. Standing at the podium during the on-field ceremony, an emotional Parker expressed his gratitude and his determination.
"I just want to let you know," Parker said to the crowd, "Parkinson's will not beat me. I'm going to fight it."
Oester also had a tough time holding back the tears when he took center stage, as he recalled a 13-year career that was spent entirely with his hometown club. The middle infielder was born in Cincinnati and attended Withrow High School before playing for the Reds from 1978-1990, when he helped Cincinnati to a World Series championship.
"I asked somebody to pinch me, because I never, ever, dreamed this," said Oester, who scored the winning run in Game 6 of the 1990 NL Championship Series against the Pirates. "I dreamed of playing for the Cincinnati Reds, but I never dreamed of making it to the Reds Hall of Fame."
A video tribute was played for the late Beckley, who played for the Reds from 1897-1903. He is third in franchise history with a career .325 batting average, and 10th all-time in Reds history with 77 triples. He finished his 20-year career with 244 triples, at the time of his retirement the most in Major League history.
All four players will officially be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame during a gala celebration on Sunday night following the club's series finale with the Marlins.
Bench, inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1986 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in '89, was thrilled for the four players who will be added Sunday.
"We have a great tradition here in Cincinnati," Bench told MLB.com. "We think we have, outside of Cooperstown, the best Hall of Fame. The Big Red Machine from my era is well-represented, but the guys in the '90s and the guys that we knew and we liked and respected and everything else, we're still Reds and we follow it and know what's there and we're happy for them."
Bench jokingly added one caveat, though, when it came to Griffey.
"Junior, he stole stuff out of my locker when he was a kid," Bench said. "And I want my stuff back, that's the first thing. Until he brings the stuff back, I can't say he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game."
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.