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Blog Entry

The End of an Era

Posted on: June 4, 2010 2:57 am
Edited on: June 4, 2010 3:08 am
 
"I'll never play for the Yankees"

Ken Griffey Jr.-

Ken Griffey Jr. said these words before the AL Divisional series in 1995 vs the Yankees.   In his contract year.
A strong fan base that had seen a Mariners organization languish at or below .500 for nearly 20 years paused, then went electric.   No superstar athlete had ever gone so far as to rule out New York, the top market , with George Steinbrenner ready to pounce.   Things changed at that very moment for many Mariner fans.   In the bigger picture this was a win for all mid market teams and much of the Pacific Northwest.  The star athlete that had it all (aka Lebron James) returned to his 'hometown' to finish something he had started.  He will be voted a few years later as a Major League Baseball ' Player of the Century' and changed baseball history in Seattle forever.   The greatest baseball player of our generation had the cajones and the integrity to go against the grain and stand up for his city and team.  That summer Ken Griffey Jr. signed an extension to keep him in Seattle until 1999.    This changed everything.

The Seattle Mariners went on to win that A.L Divisional series against the Yankees.   After being down 0-2, the Mariners went on to win the next 3 games.   Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in Mariners history is the sight of Griffey Jr. ripping around the bases and scoring all the way from first base off a double to left field by Edgar Martinez.   It was an improbable win.    Even more, it carried a ripple effect in the weeks to come throughout Seattle.   The grit, determination and loyalty by the entire 1995 Mariners team swayed public opinion enough to be part of the fan base rather than outside of it.   The passion of baseball, the beauty of an outdoor stadium and the loyalty of the greatest baseball player many have ever seen brought the fanbase together.   There will always be an underlining sense of loyalty back to Ken Griffey Jr from all Mariners fans.   A public vote was held in November of 1995 and an initiative that had previously been struck down multiple times, suddenly passed.   The majestic Safeco field was later built, the discussion of relocation was obliterated, and Major League baseball was in the Pacific Northwest for good.

Ken Griffey Jr went on to have 1,752 hits, 398 home runs, 1,152 RBI's and 167 stolen bases in the 1990's.   He defined what we now refer to as the quintessential '5 tool player'.  He was a prolific home run hitter, leading the A.L. in Home Runs in 1994, 1997, 1998, and 1999.  He was the best defensive player of his time winning the golden glove every year from 1990 - 1999.   He tied the record for most consecutive games with a Home Run with 8.  Griffey Jr won the A.L. MVP Award in 1997 and was leading vote getter for the All Star game for 5 consecutive years.  The first time he stepped to the plate as a 19 year old in 1989, he hit a double.  The first time he stepped to the plate in Seattle, he homered.  He leaves the game 5th on the All Time list for Home Runs list with 630 and has perhaps most notably, never been linked to steroids.  

On June 2nd, Ken Griffey Jr. walked away from the game of baseball on the very same calendar day as the day he was drafted as the first overall pick in 1987 by the Seattle Mariners.   He'll leave behind a new generation of baseball fans that will pass this down to their own children who will continue to fill the seats in 'The House that Griffey Built' hoping one day magic will return and perhaps a World Series title will come.   "The Kid" came into Seattle at the age of 17 and he leaves it now 25 years later.  He may not have a championship ring, but he has the respect and adoration of many fans and the players to follow him in the Mariners uniform.   One day, Seattle will win a World Series ring and we can all thank the guy who paid it forward and gave the city the opportunity.  There will be a ring in the future for Griffey, the stadium has been built and the team itself is now here.  It's just the ring now that needs to be designed and one day delivered to "The Kid"
Comments

Since: Mar 31, 2009
Posted on: June 5, 2010 11:49 pm
 

The End of an Era

Griffey Jr. will one day have a stadium named after him (or should). All small/medium market teams owe him a huge THANK YOU. Griffey's swing like Barry Sanders rushing was special. Michael Jordan's shot, Joe Montana's clutch throws. Everyone has their favorites, but these I will never forget. Ring or not, he was a champion.




Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: June 5, 2010 5:49 pm
 

The End of an Era

tarheelfan,
and in my opinion the best to have ever played the game. I absolutely agree.  In the end I won't say he's the greatest ever only due to injuries limiting his production for so many years.  However, there is not another player in history that I would take at the height of his game over Ken Griffey Jr.  Defensively as good as Mays and remarkably he was even better on offense, Griffey is the most complete player there has ever been, even more so than Bonds before he was jacked up on steroids and could still run.

But in my eyes the most important thing about Griffey is his genuine love for the game of baseball itself.  His ability to care about his team above all other things, even his own stats and well-being in terms sacrificing his body for the play.  He retired quietly and did his best to not put all the attention on himself so that the team could continue playing.  Not just a great player but a great person.



Since: Jan 26, 2009
Posted on: June 5, 2010 12:43 pm
 

The End of an Era

Ken Griffey Jr. is by far, and I mean by far, the best player of his generation, and in my opinion the best to have ever played the game.  Griffey revolutionized how the game was played from a defensive stand point.  The term "5 tool player" was created to describe what Griffer Jr. brought to the table day in and day out.  He had the sweetest smoothest swing I have ever seen.  His smile and charisma won fans over across the country and around the world.  Every year I went to see my beloved Red Sox play the Mariners just to watch how Griffey played the game.  In an era of lies, cheating, and deception, Junior was THE bright spot of MLB.  He will be missed and there will never be another one like him.




Since: Jun 16, 2008
Posted on: June 5, 2010 5:28 am
 

The End of an Era

It's correct. 

I'm going to reference a website because it's late and I'm tired.   But, this is worth checking out regarding Ken Griffey Jr and the All Century Team.  He was on both the All Decade team chosen by his peers and the All Century Team chosen by the fans in 1999.  Thanks for reading.

"In 1999, All-Century Team was chosen. To select the team, a panel of experts first compiled a list of the 100 greatest players from the past century. Fans then voted on the players using paper and .

The top two vote-getters from each position, except outfielders (nine), and the top six pitchers were placed on the team. There were some notable omissions, and an oversight committee included an additional five players who did not garner enough initial votes.

Preceding game 2 of the , the All-Century Team took center stage in a rousing ceremony. Every living player who was named to the team attended, including Ted Williams, 81 years old and ailing; and Sandy Koufax, who in his post-baseball life had become renowned for staying out of the spotlight.

During the ceremony, the loudest ovations were given to Ken Griffey, Jr., possibly due to the fact that he was a current star and popular with the fans; and Pete Rose, despite his banishment from baseball."

Ref: 




Since: Feb 17, 2010
Posted on: June 4, 2010 7:07 pm
 

The End of an Era

You meant "Player of the Decade"....He was All-Century Team under the age of 30.  I am not trying to demean your appreciation of Ken Griffey Jr. because he was the best player I ever saw.  I just thought it should be corrected.  Great write-up by the way.....


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