When my husband was twenty-one, he showed up at Safeco field early to catch the Seattle Mariners’ batting practice prior to a game, in hopes that he would catch a ball. He sat in the left field area where the score board is. Sure enough, he wasn’t disappointed. His favorite player stepped up to the plate and swung. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a ball almost directly to him – the girl behind him wound up catching it and keeping it.
It’s no wonder that the Mariners would want to induct such a figure into their club’s Hall of Fame. After all, Griffey Jr. spent 22 years playing ball on the field – that’s a rather long run in the world of baseball. He started out as a young man of 20 in 1989 and continued to play his heart out for three teams over the course of his career: Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, and a short stint with the Chicago White Sox. Griffey Jr. was a thirteen-time All-Star, and he has the sixth largest record for career home runs (630 after
Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez – strikeouts reflect my personal qualms over giving records to players with suspected steroid use – sure they hit the balls out of the park a bunch, but would they have done so otherwise?).
Griffey Jr. was born in Donora, Pennsylvania on November 21, 1969. He had baseball in his blood. His father, Ken Griffey Sr., played for 18 years. Griffey Sr. started out with the Cincinnati Reds in 1973 and made his way around the major leagues before settling down with the Mariners in 1990. During this season, he and his son were one of the first father and son pairs to play for the same team during their careers. What’s more exciting is that the father and son pair hit back-to-back home runs for the same team during the same game on September 14, 1990.
Griffey Jr. was with the Mariners from his beginnings in ’89 until ’99 when he was traded to his father’s starting team, the Reds. During his tenure with the Mariners, Griffey Jr. set some serious records. Here are a few of them.
- Ken Griffey Jr. is the all-time Seattle Mariners record holder for grand slams.
- In May 1994, he set a Mariners record by hitting 15 home runs in a single month.
- He holds the record for home runs by a left-hander for the Mariners (56 in both 1997 and 1998).
- He also holds the single season record for most total bases (393 in 1997).
Just from these records alone, it is clear why the Mariners would want to induct him into their hall of fame. He is the seventh player to enter into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame, and he will be joining the following players:
- 1997 – Alvin Davis
- 2000 – Dave Niehaus
- 2004 – Jay Buhner
- 2007 – Edgar Martinez
- 2012 – Randy Johnson
- 2012 – Dan Wilson
In his retirement, Griffey Junior has returned to the Mariners to serve as a consultant. While he suffers from Pleurisy (an inflammation of the lining of the lungs), he takes things day-to-day. Griffey has three children. Ken Griffey III (Trey) plays NCAA football for the University of Arizona. Taryn Kennedy Griffey has attracted a lot of attention as a high school point guard for her basketball team (she has a lot of promise, she’s set to graduate in 2014). Adopted son, Tevin Griffey – just 10 years old – has a penchant for both football and baseball. It will be exciting to see whether the Griffey kids carry on the family torch for sports. So far, it looks like each is an outstanding athlete in his or her own right.
What are your favorite Ken Griffey Jr. memories?