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June 3, 2010

It's Time To Say Goodbye To "The Kid"... You Will Be Missed!!!

As a kid, I chased this Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck Rookie card as if it were the holy grail and my name was Dr. Henry Jones. This was it... the greatest card of my childhood. Why? Because anybody who saw this crazy kid swing a bat or play the field knew that he was destined for greatness. He had the pedigree, his dad Ken Griffey Sr. was a solid MLB player. He grew up inside Major League ballparks and clubhouses, learning the game at the heels of the stars of the 70's and 80's. Just to put it all n perspective, by like 1992 this card was worth $150 and the whole set was only worth $160... that meant that the card of a 3rd year player was worth $150 bucks, and the other 750+ cards in the set were worth $10 bucks combined!!! But you just knew... this kid with the backwards cap and Cheez Whiz smile was a sure thing.

Griffey put the Mariners franchise on his back and carried it into the future... a future that included turning the team into a perennial contender and becoming the best player in the game. Nobody roamed centerfield like Grif the Kid, and  no batter scared the shit out of pitchers more than the mighty lefthanded #24. And that swing.. it was magical! Truly magical... that was the only way to describe it. He single handily knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs in 1995 (OK, Randy Johnson helped a bit), which killed me because it was the first time the Yankees had made the playoffs in my lifetime.I wanted to hate him... but I just couldn't do it. He was too cool... too nice... and too fucking good!!! You had to enjoy watching him play the game. No way around it, no matter what your favorite team is, everyone admired KG the Yankee Killer...

My son Mikey's godfather and my good friend Nunzio loved Mr. Griffey more then any other player to lace up cleats and take the field. A true fan of the game, Nunz recognized Da Kid's greatness and rooted for him as his favorite player despite the fact that he played all the way up in Seattle and Nunz lived way down in Miami. We had many a joking arguments over who the best baseball player of all time was while we were roommates in college. That was during the epic race to 63, in which Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Jr raced to try to break Roger Maris's single season record for Home Runs. Although Grif fell short of the mark, McGwire and Sosa broke the record. But steroid use has tarnished their images, and Griffey still remains as baseballs golden boy... proof that you don't need junk and drugs to be great during an era when to many players took the stuff. He also finished 5th all time on the HR list, behind only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays. 630 Hr's...

The game will miss you #24... that's for sure. Nunz will miss you, as will millions of fans that have watched you play the game the way you have. When Mikey grows up and asks me who the best player I ever watched play the game was, I will be tempted to bring up A-Rod and Derek Jeter (I Know... Yankee bias!). But in the end I will always think about my boy Nunz and his favorite player, and the argument will be over. He is the best I have ever seen... might be the best to ever have done it. Mikey will watch the clips... he will know about the man that we called "The Kid". The guy with the backwards hat, the golden glove, the perfect swing, the million dollar smile, and the records to back it all up. Take care Ken... thanks for the memories!!!



  1. Back in the '80s, I had met him whiel he was a farm player with the Las Vegas Stars. At that time, he was the team MVP... goin' places, as the kids say. Got his autograph and stuff. I really didn't care about baseball, but my grandfather and uncle talked about his dad and stuff and said he'd be moving on the the majors soon at the rate he was going, so I got his autograph. I lost it soon after, and soon after that he was in the major leagues. Nice guy (he seemd at the time, anyway.) Good for him retiring so young!

  2. Tommy, I met him as well... I watched him hit batting practice at Yankee Stadium, and then got one of the balls that he hit into the stands from my buddy that worked at the stadium. He got me to meet him, and I asked him to sign the ball... he was shocked that it was one of the ones he had just smashed out in BP... but he signed it. Still have it. One of my best autographs. And he was a hell of a nice guy... BTW, he was retiring after 22 seasons... yeah he is only 40, but dude has been playing ball for longer than he hasn't!!!