Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ken Griffey Junior Reunion Tour

Today marks Junior's first return to the playing field in Seattle since he was rescued by the Reds prior to the 2000 season for a nice collection of garbage [Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Perez, Jake Meyer]. As opposed to Alex Rodriguez's return, the locals seem to welcome his return and that's not just to boo, throw fake money, and dump beer on him in the dugout. Fans don't remember the time after his first call-up [Arod we're talking about here] when he had the teenage ballgirl's shirt up over her head, while making out on top of his car, in full uniform, of course. We remember him [Griffey] scoring the winning run against the Yankees in game five of the divisional series in 1995.

Griffey made his pro debut with the Mariners [M's for you fans] in 1989 at age 19 and spent 11 seasons with the team. He won many awards and made baseball tolerable in Washington. Hey, they even went to the playoffs and won a couple of games. He was the face of the franchise and there has been a lot made of how he saved baseball in Seattle, which of course he did.

Because of my close proximity to Seattle, the author has retained a curious interest in the Mariners franchise. I went to my first pro game in Seattle. Afterwards I waited in the parking lot for first basemen Alvin Davis to shower and, subsequently, take the service exit to his car. I referred to every black man who emerged from the locker room as "Mr. Davis" and asked them to sign my commemorative baseball. Reserve outfielder John Rabb told me he was not Mr. Davis, but was still nice enough to sign the ball. That was the extent of my baseball knowledge. Good times.

The press surrounding Griffey's arrival was such that the author can remember brokering a deal for a Griffey Donruss rookie in exchange for the entire pack of cards I had just purchased, headlined by future not-star Felix Jose. Once Junior finally got to Seattle, we were amazed. He was simply a fascinating player to watch. When the games weren't televised I listened to the radio broadcasts, no longer simply because they were the only baseball aired in Spokane. The Mariners were a kind of interesting team. And this was all do to Griffey, who was not only a legitimate baseball player but had his own candy bar. If I go to school and do my best, I can get a candy bar with my ugly face on it? That's what Ken Griffey Jr. says. No better role model.

So, tomorrow he returns. Seattle is very much the same, still no world championships, and no particular interest in heading that direction. They won quite a few games one season and now have a couple of guys from Japan. He has less cartilage on his knees and he plays a different position but the red and white jersey looks much better. You'll notice the tasteful moustache has been replaced with a very becoming chin beard. So, the Reds Rocket is going to hit the road in a 1994 Oldsmobile 88 and catch the series. Look for the author in the right field bleachers silently weeping while dumping a beer on the head of the guy wearing the Mike Cameron jersey.


Anonymous said...

so Griffey was "saved" by the Reds huh? he has been hurt how many years while a Red and they have won how many playoff games with them? oh that's right you have to actually make the playoffs to win playoff games, my bad.

Stephen said...

I'm just hoping that he goes yard once while he's here this weekend so I can see him hit one in person.

Interleague play makes being a Reds fan so far from Cincy tolerable...well, once a decade at least.

Tim Timmons said...

the mariners were stifling his creativity

Anonymous said...

That A-Rod sure is a son of a bitch. I think I nailed that same ball girl.

Norm Charlton