When the announcement was made that Junior was coming back to Seattle to finish out his career. I was like everyone else here in the Northwest. Excited to see him come back to where it all started to make his final curtain call. While I didn't start out as a Griffey Jr. fan, and will never be one of the die-hards. I have come to appreciate everything he has done for the game, and the things he accomplished playing it.
(1993 Dairy Queen)
Until last Saturday I probably had heard it, but it never really registered. Junior was a main player in the tribute to Jackie Robinson Day baseball has every season. I believe they said he spearheaded the entire idea, but don't quote me on that. Another of his passions for baseball that he felt needed to be done, and went out to make sure it happened. Like I've said a few times this week. The man seems to have a certain passion about everything he does in his life. While we all have passions for things in life. What makes some people what they are is they work to make those reality, and Griffey Jr. is one of those people on the biggest level. I just wish I could have that passion myself.
When his return was announced we started making plans to go up, and catch some games hoping to see Junior play one last time. How long he would be around was a big question mark so we had to go see him before it was all over. Getting together with our friend Joe who loves going up with us to watch games. Joe, and my wife are huge Mariners fans, while I rate them as my second favorite team. So seeing Junior was the biggest deal to these two, and was a trip that had to be made.
Dates are not my strong-suit so I can't remember when we did go. What I do remember is we picked one of the best games of the season to go. We may have even picked the best home game of the entire season for the fireworks we got to see. Every year ROOT Sports which is the station that shows Mariners games. They pick the top ten I believe Mariners games from the past season. Then during the winter they show the games in their entirety each Monday night one at a time. Joe enjoys to tune in for a couple minutes, and see if he recognizes watching the game at some point during the season. He was blown away when our little memory was one of those games they showed. Thrilled to death he came in to work the next day, and asked if I had watched the Mariners replay because our game was on.
With a memory like this you would think I might remember every detail, but I was like most the crowd. So wrapped up in the moment that some of the details got lost along the way. Here is what I do remember for my last game seeing Junior play.
The game itself was not what we had hoped for while it moved along. The crowd unable to get into anything as the visitors were winning. Seattle hadn't really given any of us a whole lot to cheer for as we kept going. Then the eighth inning hit, and the Mariners started to get it going a little. Then the moment happened...
The crowd starting to feel a possible rally suddenly went nuts as over the speakers came the news. "PINCH HITTING FOR THE SEATTLE MARINERS KEN GRIFFEY JUNIOR!!" While he hadn't given fans a ton to cheer about as his batting numbers weren't anything special. For some reason the crowd just went electric.The feeling rushing through that stadium was something you can't explain, as I've never felt anything like it before. As the place kept chanting while Junior took a few practice swing. I looked over at Joe, and said 'Griffey is hitting a home run, I just feel it'. Not a person was sitting as the electiricty just kept getting bigger, and bigger. With the power in that crowd I bet a bunt would have flown in left field.
Going through all the motions we got to the first pitch. As the ball sailed towards the plate Junior took the swing and BAM!! The second it hit his bat the crowd erupted as you could tell it was a home run. When everything was said, and done the ball landed to our left, and down four rows. As he rounded the bases the crowd was still going wild from seeing what we had just witnessed. From what was a bad ending to a great players career this was an incredible moment to have witnessed his last full season.
Hopefully you enjoyed all the cool Ken Griffey Jr. items I have gotten from living up here in the Northwest. I know I've enjoyed sharing not just the goodies, but also the two stories of my experiences watching 'The Kid'. Looking back it's a shame that during the main part of his career I missed watching him play. While I do have two great memories I'd love to have seen him in his prime. Unfortunately life took a different path, and baseball during that time was non existent in that life. Luckily things have come full circle, and I get to see more games, and learn more about this great game. It's amazing how there are times I go in different directions yet in the end I always come back to baseball.