Legends On Deck

Legends Of YesterYear: Junior On Verge Of Hall Call

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

When we think of names that have made major impacts in the game of baseball, Ken Griffey Jr, aka “the Kid”, comes to mind. Some would think of stars that performed above the rest in their respected positions while others would look at how the game was changed.  And still other people would measure the ball player on what accolades he achieved.

But with the Hall of Fame selection for the 2016 class soon to be announced on Wednesday afternoon, one name sticks out from the rest as a sure-in for the honor.

Griffey Jr, is the son of former major league veteran Ken Griffey Sr., who stared in the league from 1973-1991, amassing 152 home runs and 859 RBI’s in 2097 games.

But his younger name sake, stood out on the diamond and truly made a name for himself.

The Kid, played in 22 seasons, mostly with the Seattle Mariners (13 years), and in 2671 games, he launched 630 home runs, placing him sixth on the all-time HR list, and drove in 1836 runs. He led the league in home runs four different times in the late 90’s, hitting 56 twice in a season.  He appeared in 13 all-star games, 11 in a row from 1990-2000, won an MVP in 1997, when he hit 56 home runs, while driving in 147 runs and totaled 10 Gold Glove awards to add to his trophy case.

Griffey Jr., starred with the Mariners before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2000, and spent nine seasons in a state where he attended High School and his father played for 12 years.

Junior never made it to a World Series, but enjoyed success in his 18 postseason games batting .290, with six home runs, 11 RBI’s and five stolen bases. He hit five home runs in his first playoff appearance in the 1995 ALDS against the New York Yankees as the Mariners won the series in dramatic fashion, coming from an 0-2 deficit, with non other than “The Kid” scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

At the age of 39 years old, he returned to the Mariners, the organization that drafted him with the first pick in the first round of the 1987 amateur draft and he hit 19 home runs and drove in 57 in 114 games which marked the last season he would truly enjoy the game.

In 2010, he wasn’t getting much playing time as he struggled at the plate and decided to call it a career through a statement:

“I’ve come to a decision today to retire from Major League Baseball as an active player. This has been on my mind recently, but it’s not an easy decision to come by. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to play Major League Baseball for so long and thankful for all the friendships I have made, while also being proud of my accomplishments.”

“While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field, and nobody in the front office asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back, that I will never allow myself to become a distraction. I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates, and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be.”

Griffey may not have left the game the way he would have liked, but he will always be remembered for playing the game the right way and always giving his fans something to smile about.

The Kid, Junior, the Natural, whatever he may be remembered as, will have one more accolade to show off and that will be his Hall of Fame plaque hanging in Cooperstown right where it belongs.

Griffey Jr, thanks for the memories, a true Legend of the game.

David Conde
%d bloggers like this: