Top Ten Moments in the Illustrious Career of Ken Griffey Jr.

↵ ↵

↵

↵Maybe it's a generational thing, but for those of us in our late 20s and early 30s, didn't it feel like we got about 10 years older last night? Ken Griffey Jr. retired at the age of 40, ending a sure-fire Hall of Fame career and, in a way, closing a chapter of baseball history in the process. ↵

↵

↵There are other older players still in the majors, but losing Griffey feels like the book is closing on an entire generation of, let's face it, amazingly compelling baseball. Sure there were a ton of cheaters during his era, yet part of the reason why Griffey is so revered in the sport is because he was never implicated in any of the steroid mess. Griffey was, in a way, the anti-Barry Bonds. Both great sluggers, but one's legacy was sullied by being a notorious jerk and suspected cheater, while the other seemed enhanced by being the polar opposite. (Note: Bonds weighed 185 pounds as a rookie and 230 pounds in his final season in 2007, at age 43. Griffey entered the league at 195 pounds and retired, at age 40, weighing 230 pounds as well. Is weight gain an indicator of steroid use or do people just get heavier as they get older?) ↵

↵

↵The writing was on the wall for a while with Griffey. Since leaving Cincinnati his numbers were far from Griffey-like, playing a pedestrian 41 games for the White Sox in 2008 before heading back to where his career began, lasting a season and change for the Mariners. Griffey hit .214 in 117 games last season and while he did belt 19 home runs, he had just 57 RBI and recorded a career-low OPS of .735. Griffey really should have retired before 2010, and after 33 games and a .184 batting average with no home runs, it was time to hang them up. ↵

↵

↵The good news is that nobody will remember that Griffey. We'll remember one of the greats in the history of the game. Here are the top moments – both on and off the field – in Junior's illustrious career. Because lists are always better with numbers, we'll count down from 10. I'm certain that we missed some, so feel free to add to the list below: ↵

↵

↵10. Defense
↵He'll likely be most remembered for his bat, but for my money, nobody was a better centerfielder than Griffey during his prime with the Mariners. Here's a series of some of his best catches. Just amazing stuff. ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵9. The Video Game
↵Griffey was all over pop culture in his prime (more on that in a bit), but nothing can ever be as lasting as having your own video game. Here's the intro to the 1994 version, in all its 16-bit glory. ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵8. April 10th, 1989 – First Home Run
↵It didn't take very long for Griffey to get his first of 630 home runs in the Major Leagues. His first at-bat in the Kingdome in his first home game as a Mariner, Junior took White Sox pitcher Eric King deep to left for his first homer on the first pitch he saw. ↵

↵

↵7. The Double
↵This highlight could be higher on the list, and would be if it was a tribute to Edgar Martinez. Still, that run scored did more for baseball in Seattle than, perhaps, any run…ever. ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵6. Yahtzee!
↵Of all the This is SportCenter ads that ESPN has produced, there isn't one that tops the simple hilarity of Kenny Mayne running back the tape of a traditional Griffey home run swing, trying out different catch phrases while Dan Patrick talks about how they make the stuff up right on the spot. "It's never iffy if it's Griffey. That blows," is one of the great lines in commercial history. You can listen to Mayne tell the story of how this commercial was made, and how he actually thought the line was terrible and never expected that to get in the spot, by clicking here. ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵5. Return to Cincinnati
↵Well, I'm finally home. Griffey's tenure in Cincinnati didn't garner much success for the team, but it was a pretty momentous baseball moment for one of the league's top stars: ↵

↵
↵⇥"The last time I put on this uniform, I think I was 8 -- for a father-son game," Griffey said, pulling on a Reds jersey at a news conference.⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

↵⇥"This is something I dreamed about as a little kid, being back in my hometown where I watched so many great players," he said.⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

↵
↵

↵4. 500th Career Home Run
↵Remember, at some point in baseball's history, when hitting 500 home runs was a big deal and the milestone made you an automatic Hall of Famer? After Griffey's 500th, he did Letterman's Top Ten list. "I'm five percent of the way to 10,000 homeruns." ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵3. 600th Career Home Run
↵Now 600 home runs does put a player in an elite class. Griffey hit his 600th in Florida. Plenty of good seats still available. ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵2. August 31, 1990 – Playing With His Dad
↵2a. September 14, 1990 – Back-to-Back Homers
↵In his second season in the Majors, Junior was joined mid-season in Seattle by his father. On August 31st of that year, the two took the field together for the first time, with Senior playing left and Junior in center. They both went 1-4 on the day and each scored a run. ↵

↵

↵Perhaps the most memorable father-son moment for the Griffey family came just two weeks later as the tandem hit back-to-back home runs. ↵

↵
↵⇥For poignancy, no Griffey home run will ever match the one he hit off the Angels' Kirk McCaskill on Sept. 14, 1990.⇥What made this first-inning homer so memorable is that his father, Ken Griffey Sr., signed by the Mariners at age 40, had just homered off McCaskill, a two-run shot to center. Junior, 20, followed immediately with his 36th career homer, also to center.⇥No father and son had ever played together, let alone hit back-to-back home runs. ↵
↵

↵1. It's Like There's a Party In My Mouth…
↵You can have Mattingly's sideburns, for my money the best moment of the best episode of the best sit-com in television history is Ken Griffey's grotesquely swollen jaw (which, per the video, is actually his cranium). Here are some outtakes from the recording. ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.