Ken Griffey Jr was one of the biggest faces in baseball during his 22 years in the majors. Known as Junior or “The Kid” he rose to the majors at the ripe age of 19 and finished his career with 630 career home runs. Known for his wide smile early in his career he rose to fame quickly patrolling center-field in the Kingdome.
If baseball players were ranked like super hero’s Ken Grffey Jr was unquestionably one you wanted on your side.
The son of former big leaguer Ken Griffey, he broke into the big leagues when his father was still actively playing. One of baseball’s more memorable moments came when the two hit home runs in the same inning. Throughout the 90’s the younger Griffery was a frequent All-Star and in 1993’s home run Derby he became the first (and thus far only) player to bat a ball off the warehouse past the right field fences in Baltimore.
In 1995 Griffey’s mad dash around the bases in the 11th inning of the ALDS propelled the Mariners to the ALCS and became an instant baseball memory for fans in Seattle. Griffey won the 1997 AL MVP award after he hit .304 with 56 homers and 147 RBI. He would became synonymous with video game releases and baseball card boxes. After 10-All Star appearances with the Mariners he was traded to Cincinnatti upon request for a list of players most notably Mike Cameron.In his last four seasons with the Mariners he hit 49, 56, 56, and 48 home runs.
After initial success for both Griffey and the Reds it seemed that injuries on Griffery’s behalf and poor perfroamaces from the club were a yearly expectation. When Junior hit just 40 home runs during his 2000 season the media was already ready to claim the decline of him. In eight and a half seasons with the Reds he hit a total of 210 home runs or one more then his last four seasons with Seattle. It was a laundry list of injuries rather then poor performance that hampered Griffey’s time with the Reds but he still averaged nearly 25 home runs a year with an OPS approaching .900. Late in 2007 he was asked if he would ever return to the Mariners to which he replied if the situation was right. This set off a whirlwind of speculation to when he would return to Seattle.
In 2008 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox where he filled the role as veteran/part time outfielder. The highlight of his time with the White Sox undoubtably came when he threw out a runner at the plate of a one game playoff between the White Sox and Minnesota Twins. The White Sox would win the game 1-0.
Before the 2009 season there was speculation that Griffey Jr was on the verge of signing a one year deal with the Atlanta Braves to play left field. Following an article by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution citing the expected contract the deal was called off and Griffey made his long awaited return to Seattle.
Originally the remarrige between the Mariners and Griffey was expected to last only for the 2009 season. Griffey appeared in 117 games for the Mariners in 2009 mainly at DH hitting .214 with 19 home runs and 57 RBI. Over the winter the two sides annouced that Griffey would return for the 2010 season, his 22nd in the major leagues. With Griffey contuning to struggle at the plate there were rumors that the Mariners may opt to relase him. Two still unnamed Mariner players spoke out to reporters that Griffey was in the clubhouse sleeping during a game. With just a .184 average and 0 ho0me runs Griffey made the annoucement today that he was ending his time in profesional baseball.
You can stack Ken Griffey Jr’s numbers against anyone in the history of the game. A lifetime .284/.370/.538 hitter he was the premier power hitter in the American League during the 90’s and finished his career with 630 homers and 1836 RBI. Those numbers rank him fifth and fourteenth all time. He had a string of 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1990-1999 and was a 13 time All Star.