Friday, January 6, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #72 Ken Griffey Junior

The Kid. Number One overall pick in the draft. AL MVP. 13 time All Star. All Star Game MVP. 3 times the Home Run Derby winner. 10 Gold Gloves. 7 Silver Slugger awards. League Home Run champ. 2 50 Home run seasons. League RBI champ. League Runs champ. Comeback Player of the Year. All Century Team.

Ken Griffey Jr was born to play baseball. He grew up inside the famed Big Red Machine and obviously learned something. He arrived with incredible expectations, and delivered. He basically saved the Seattle Mariners franchise and developed into one of the Top 3 players of this generation. In an era best remembered for fairy-tale numbers fueled by performance enhancing drugs, KGJ delivered eye-popping numbers without a hint of PED aid, establishing himself as a first ballot hall of famer.

Plenty of memories, but nothing sticks out more than 51 game span in 1990 & 1991 that he got to live out just about every kid's wildest baseball fantasy.... playing on a major league team with your Dad.

On August 29th, 1990, five days after being released by the Reds, Ken Griffey Senior signed a contract to play with the Seattle Mariners. A couple of days later, they were in the starting lineup at the same time, playing next to each other Junior in center & Senior in left. It was the first time in ML history a father & son played on the same team... and they both collected hits. Tim Raines & Tim Raines Junior would play together on the 2001 Baltimore Orioles.

However, even a Hollywood script writer could not top what happened on September 14th. The Mariners were in Anaheim, playing out the season against in the Angels. After walking leadoff hitter Harold Reynolds to start the game, Angels starter Kirk McCaskill hung a curve ball to KG Senior who promptly blasted it to left-center field over the head of leaping Devon White. KG Junior was on deck and greeted his father at home following his 151st career HR. Four pitches later, Junior lofted a low outside pitch over the wall about 6 pad panels to the left of where his Dad's home run went out. Back-to-Back-Father-and-Son home runs. It was the 36th HR of his young career. I was stationed at Camp Pendleton at the time and watched it live on TV, immediately recognizing it was something I would likely never see again.

Ken Griffey Senior would hit one more home run before retiring in May of 1991. Ken Griffey Junior would hit 594 more home runs before retiring in June of 2010.


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