12 Days of Mariners-mas: #1 Is “The Kid” Ken Griffey Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr. just beat out Edgar Martinez for the top spot on our list because of his overall success, what he meant to the franchise, and his lasting impact on the Seattle Mariners organization. He played 12 seasons for the Mariners, most of which during the 1990s, and as the second Mariners player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Griffey was the first to put the M’s cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Ken Griffey Jr. was known for his outstanding catches, beautiful swing, and comedic nature in the Mariners locker room.
Griffey had a phenomenal ability to hit for contact and for power, and his legacy and impact stretches far and wide in Mariners history. He leads the franchise in Gold Gloves (*Ichiro and Griffey are tied with 10), Silver Sluggers, and home runs. Junior made Seattle a baseball town with his success on the field, his leadership, and his impressive 1995 postseason performance; he hit 5 home runs, drove in 7 runs, and scored 9 times against the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS.
Had Junior been able to stay healthy, he may have gone on to be the greatest baseball player of all-time. His stellar performance both with the Mariners and the Reds was good enough to earn him the votes of all but three Hall of Fame voters, the second highest vote percentage (99.3%) of any position player in history.
Griffey’s 70.6 all-time WAR with the Mariners is best in team history, just above Edgar at 68.4 WAR; these two will always be remembered for the memorable double hit by Edgar which drove in Griffey and Joey Cora to win Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees, the moment which saved baseball in Seattle.
Griffey was eventually traded to the Reds after the 1999 season, but he would return for one final season in Seattle in 2009. Although his season was not statistically memorable, Mariners fans showered Griffey with standing ovations upon his return, and his teammates carried him off the field at the end of the 2009 season. After spending two months with the Mariners in 2010, Griffey decided to retire following a game against Minnesota on May 31st, 2010.
“The Kid” recently bought a share of ownership of the Mariners, and hopes to help bring a long-awaited championship to Seattle.