I was lucky enough to see Ken Griffey Jr at the plate in two Mariner’s home openers. They were his last two – not his first two. Still, for this baseball fan those two games remain some of my best baseball memories. Ken Griffey Jr retired from baseball yesterday on the 23rd anniversary of his signing with the Mariner’s as the first round draft pick overall. He was the best baseball player I ever saw play – and I’ve seen several Hall of Famers play the game.
Griffey deserved to enter retirement with more fanfare than a written statement released to the press. But maybe he wanted to avoid an emotional display that would be recorded and replayed countless times. Hopefully, he’ll come back to the House that Jr Built for a proper send-off.
Now Ichiro takes the stage as the only super-star on the team. He’s an amazing player in his own right whose play and love for the games was enhanced last season with Jr on the team. So maybe Jr saved baseball in Seattle twice. The first time back in ’95 when the Mariner’s beat the Yankees (see photo above) to advance to the American League Championship series and then in ’09 when Griffey came back to end his career in Seattle – and helped to keep Ichiro in Seattle.
It will seem a little strange to attend my next Mariner’s game without Griffey on the team. But time marches on and it was time for Griffey to retire from the game that has been so good to him and that he was so good for. He had the sweetest swing in baseball and for most of his career was the best in the game. Remarkable defensive skills and power at the plate. Had he not suffered so many injuries in Cincinnati he would be higher than 5th all-time on the HR list – maybe even 1st. He retired with the highest total of any active player. A position now held by former team mate Alex Rodriguez. Griffey is a guaranteed first-time unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Thanks for the memories.
Good Luck, Kid!