Did I say “Thank You?!”
In this day and age, it is rare to find a true idol in the sports world. With so much lying and cheating in sports, the dark age of sport has ruined what used to be pure and good. It wasn’t always like this, though, as there was once a generation of athletes who inspired people.
They inspired us to be
goodgreat. They inspired us to reach for the stars and pursue our dreams. They inspired us to buy Gatorade and Nike.
Junior was an idol to me and my friends. We didn’t want to be LIKE him, we wanted to BE him. He epitomized everything that baseball meant, everything it has ever stood for.
He inspired a whole entire generation to play the game like he did and to live life like he did.
From backwards hats and ear to ear smiles to big wads of bubble gum that would produce a bubble the size of our heads,
(And of course we all tried to pop each other’s bubble. C’mon, who didn’t?)
Griffey had an effect on all of us.
My friends and I used to play a game called Griffey Grabs. We would find a location, usually the trampoline in my backyard, and set up where we could make amazing catches like Junior.
We would dive and lay out to make catches or we would find a fence just big enough to leap up and reach over to rob a “home run” thrown by a friend.
We used to pile into stores and buy bags of Big League Chew bubble gum to try and blow bubbles as big as the one Griffey blew in his latest baseball card.
We fought over who could play as the Mariners in Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball on Super Nintendo and who could use Griffey himself in the Home Run Derby in the game.
We would push and shove and trip over each other on uniform day for the honor to wear #24 for the upcoming baseball season.
And we all nudged each other as we sat on the edge of our seats watching Griffey hit the Camden Yards Warehouse in the Home Run Derby in Baltimore or when he hit home runs in 8 straight games.
We were all inspired when we saw Junior live out one of every kid’s dream – playing alongside his dad in the big league.
We were inspired when he made one of the most spectacular catches in baseball history, seriously injured his wrist, and then walked his way back to the clubhouse, only to come back just as good.
And we were inspired when he would spend hours on end signing autographs for the fans, making children’s dreams come true and turning adults into kids again. We would laugh at each prank he pulled in the clubhouse on his fellow players.
The Griffey Effect hit us hard and it still courses through our veins.
That brings us to today. Today is the day that Junior starts earning his post-career accolades when the Seattle Mariners induct The Kid into the Mariner Hall of Fame.
While we’ve entered a whole new era in baseball, we can still go back in time and, at least for today look back at better times. Crack a smile today, Seattle. Our idol is home for good.