My oh My was right, Dave
Whether you called him Junior, The Kid, Kenny, or just plain old Griffey, if you grew up in the 90’s, chances are Ken Griffey Jr. was you childhood idol.
He was mine, that’s for sure, and I spent many a summer day at the old Kingdome, sitting out in center field with my dad and usually a friend, yelling out “Griffey” until he would finally turn around a wave at me.
Moments like that will never come along again for me, not only because baseball had a certain stigma for me when I was a kid, more so than it does now, but, also, there will never be another player like Ken Griffey Jr. to play in a Mariners uniform either.
Those moments above will only ever be replayed in my own head for the rest of my life, but here are my 5 other top moments in Junior’s Mariners history that I would like to share with you.
5: Back to back with dad
September 14th, 1990, Ken Griffey Sr., and Junior., became the first, and only, father and son duo to hit back to back homeruns in a Major League Baseball game.
The feat came in the first inning off of Kirk McCaskill of the then California Angels.
When Sr. got back to home plate as Junior was awaiting him, he said “That’s how it’s done, Son.” Junior answered with his very own one run shot to show his dad who the real power hitter of the family was.
4: Griffey comes back home
That moment when your childhood hero comes back to play out the rest of his days for your home town team is never as sweet as you think it should be, but for this instance, it didn’t really matter.
Ken Griffey Junior was the savior of Seattle baseball. We wouldn’t get to go enjoy the boys in blue at the state of the art Safeco field if it weren’t for him.
Junior was past his prime, and after being traded at the deadline to the Chicago White Sox from the Cincinnati Reds the previous year, was at a point in his career when he knew he owed it to the fans of Seattle for one last hurrah.
The old man still had the smile of the kid that made his debut at 19, and the backwards baseball cap meant that the pranks were still fresh in his mind.
It really didn’t even matter that his bat didn’t make the trip back to Seattle with him, or that his legs couldn’t allow him to roam Center like he used to.
Our old friend was back, and to a 30 something man who couldn’t let the previous decade go like myself, that was all that mattered in my book.
Below is the video montage that played at Safeco Field, welcoming Junior back home.
3: His gold glove ability
If there was anything sweeter than watching that swing, it would be watching him patrol center field.
There were plenty of catches that will spark memory in many of you, as there were for me, but the biggest and best was the very first one in the video below.
At a full speed sprint, Junior locks on, reads, and then pulls in the ball right in front of the warning track, prompting him to jump into the center field wall to break his speed.
With all four limbs simultaneously hitting the wall at the same time, he looked more like a cat clinging onto the side of a couch, than a future Hall of Famer sparking another highlight clip.
These fancy catches didn’t come without a cost though, as Junior broke his wrist going into the wall at full speed.
The call by Dave makes this play that much more memorable though.
2: That infectious smile
Even after he had officially “grown up” he still was called The Kid, and a lot of that comes from that child like grin that could be seen on his face for every game of the year, whether he was in the lineup or not.
He reminded a lot of us of what it would have been like to play the game that we all loved as children, every day as a profession.
He reminded us that it was just a game, and that baseball should be fun, even when it was considered a job to these “adults.”
That is something that I don’t see too often in today’s game, and maybe that is why I don’t think I will ever have memories as fond of baseball anymore, as I did when I was a child.
There is no one video to capture the essence that Junior had on me as a fan, and to try to find one video to sum it up would be an injustice to him, and Mariner fans all over.
1: Junior rounds home
This play still brings tears to my eyes to this day whenever I see it. It comes on the sports countdowns on FSN, ESPN, or MLB TV, and I’m mesmerized, unable to move a muscle until the chills finally subside from my body.
This is the exact moment that put Seattle baseball on the map.
The exact moment when we played David, to New York’s Goliath, and walked away with a victory.
The exact moment that all Cinderella stories are scripted for, and the exact moment that epitomizes baseball greatness for me.
There is no introduction needed for this play, we all know it, we all love it, and we all will stop everything we are doing at the moment it is played to relive the first truly joyous occasion in Mariners history.
So here it is, one more time, as my #1 Ken Griffey Jr. moment in Seattle Mariners history.
I hope that you all enjoy this trip down memory road as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you all.
Ken Griffey Jr. was Seattle’s first superstar, and will be a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer when his time comes.
I am just lucky enough to have been born at the right time to come up a Mariners fan at the most important time of their history.