|The Kid Is Closing In On 600 Home Runs||| Print |||Send|
Written by Nicholas Kramer (Contact & Archive) on May 06, 2008
Ken Griffey Jr. began his major league career with the Seattle Mariners on April 3, 1989. He batted .264 with 16 home runs in 127 games that year. A broken hand cost him his chance at the Rookie of the Year Award. A recent slew of injuries, however, have not cost him his chance at 600 home runs. Griffey stands at 597.
While Griffey played in Seattle for 11 seasons, he only had two with fewer than 20 home runs. Both were injury shortened years. In 1995, he led the Mariners to beat the Angels in a tiebreaking game for the AL Wild Card spot. The Mariners went on to beat the Yankees, but lost to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
Griffey’s days in Seattle came to an unfortunate end; the Kid was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Perez, and Jake Meyer. Griffey asked for the trade to be closer to his family, and his dad was a coach with the Reds at the time. In 2000, Griffey hit 40 home runs, but his OPS was .942, the lowest it had been in five years.
Then the injuries hit. The player that many thought would break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, who was the fan favorite because he avoided performance-enhancing substances, had his career derailed. His hamstring became a liability, and in four consecutive seasons -- 2001 through 2004 -- he missed time with serious injuries.
The road to recovery took a little while. Griffey was injured in 2005 and ’06, but he combined to hit 62 home runs in those years. He still had some pop in his bat.
Last year, he played in 144 games and hit 30 homers with a .277 average. Although his season was cut short by a groin injury, he made the All Star Game and passed Frank Robinson on the all-time home run list. This year has been good for him. Griffey has showed some pop, putting up three home runs on the young season.
Number 600 will not be as celebrated as number 756 would have been, but for someone who has gone through so much in his career and for someone who is as great of a person as Griffey is, it’s just good to see him on the ball field. The Kid with the backwards cap and the thousand watt smile is still playing. And I’m glad to see it.
Sidenote: Griffey still holds the Mariners' record for home runs with 398. He is ranked among the top 5 in most of the Mariners' offensive records. Griffey is still a popular figure in Seattle, and people talk about him throughout the state of Washington.