You can’t deny The Kid
The Seattle Mariners have been blessed over the years with some big names in baseball. While some aren’t thought of fondly in these parts anymore, we still have a few local legends to look to. Chances are, most of us think of the same guy.
Ken Griffey Jr was beloved in Seattle during his 13 combined years with the Mariners. Sure, there was a 9 year gap in between, but who cares? It’s Junior!
During his tenure in the Emerald City, The Kid racked up quite a highlight reel. He robbed home runs from opposing hitters and he hit tape measure home runs. His sweet swing was emulated by children everywhere as was his signature backwards hat and big smile.
It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite moment from Junior’s era in Seattle, but I am going to give it a shot.
Here are my 5 favorite Ken Griffey Jr. Seattle Mariners moments.
In July of 1993, Griffey achieved a feat by tying the record for consecutive games with a home run. He hit home runs in 8 straight games during that 1993 campaign and added his name to the list of 2 others who hold the record. Junior started the streak by hitting home runs in 2 games against the New York Yankees, 4 games against the Cleveland Indians and 2 games against the Minnesota Twins.
I vividly remember the run, watching Griffey cap the streak with a bomb to deep right field inside the foul pole while at a friend’s house. We never missed a game and this particular feat had us on the edge of our seats with each pitch of each at bat.
Camden HR Derby
The Home Run Derby is every kid’s favorite part of All-Star weekend. Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing their favorite players flash some power and hit some very big home runs? And when word of Ken Griffey Jr. being in the field came down, there was no shortage of excitement in the Northwest.
The MLB All Star Game at Camden Yards in Baltimore was going to be epic.
Fans of basbeall were treated to a display of power we may never see again in our lifetime. With names like Juan Gonzales, Barry Bonds, Cecil Fielder, and Albert Belle, you know you were in for a real treat. When the name Griffey Jr. came over the intercom, though, the crowd went wild as did the viewers around the world. Everyone loved The Kid and knew what he was capable of.
Junior proved everyone right that day, registering one of the most memorable home runs ever in the recent history of baseball – a bomb that struck the warehouse just outside the right field wall at Camden Yards. That’s right, Griffey literally went Y-A-R-D!
In both a testament to Ken Griffey Junior’s athletic ability and dedication to helping the Mariners win, Junior offered a window to the future with a highlight catch turned gruesome. Griffey was positioned in left center field when a ball was hit deep to right center field. Junior took off and did not stop until he had sprinted from left center to practically right field. When he hit the warning track, he lept, almost like the Jordan brand Jumpman logo, and crashed into the wall, wrist first.
While everyone was anxiously waiting to see if Griffey was ok, Griffey himself only seemed to care about the out. He took his good hand, pulled the glove off his now-injured wrist and showed the umpire the baseball. While Junior made yet another highlight reel catch, he also shattered his wrist.
That was the beginning of a long string of injuries for Junior, which really didn’t kick up until he landed in Cincinnatti.
Like Father Like Son
As a child, I loved playing catch with my dad. We would get our baseball gloves and head out to the local park and we would sling the ball at each other, immitating pitchers and outfielders. It’s almost a ritual in a sports-laden household to play catch with your dad, and it is a cherished memory to this very day.
It’s hard to imagine that feeling getting any better. For Ken Griffey Jr., he got the ultimate father/son achievement: he got to play professional baseball alongside his father. The Mariners, with Ken Griffey Sr. in tow, called Junior up to the Mariners. Playing alongside each other in the outfield, Mariner fans could see the family torch passed down right before our eyes.
The ultimate moment came in 1990 against the Angels. Griffey Sr had just come up to bat and hit a home run. Batting behind him in the lineup was none other than Griffey Jr. who followed his father’s at bat with a home run of his own.
The Griffeys had just hit back to back home runs.
Could it get any better?
1995 ALDS Game 5 vs Yankees
We all know what I am about to say. While the play in question was an absolute team effort, the centerpiece of course was Junior. With Griffey on second base during game 5 of the 1995 American League Divisional Series, Edgar Martinez stepped to the plate with an opportunity to put the Yankees away.
The rest was history as Edgar hit a liner down the left field line. Griffey approached third base and was immediately waved home with absolute enthusiasm. Junior rounded third and barrelled for home plate. The throw to the plate came in a little bit late and Griffey was able to slide safely into home, giving the Mariners a huge win.
The team mobbed and piled onto Griffey at the plate in celebration of the historic play that gives us all goosebumps to this very day.