Ken Griffey Jr was without a doubt the best baseball player of his era. Between 1990 and 2000, there was no other player better than "The Kid", performance enhancing or otherwise. No one covered the outfield like him, no one flashed the leather like him, and no one had a sweeter swing than him.
Griffey Jr was drafted first in the 1989 amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners and made his pro debut the very same year were he played along side his father Griffey Sr. Towards the end of the 1990 season, both Senior and Junior would be the first father-son-duo to his back to back Homeruns. He was often regarded for his high energy at the plate and in the outfield.
Seattle Mariners (1989-1999)
Griffey Jr would play with the Mariners from 1989 to 1999. During his time in Seattle, Junior accumulated 398 Homerus, and 1,152 runs batted in. Junior also scored the series winning run in the famous 1995 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees
in the bottom of the 11th inning after being down two games in a best of 5 series. In 1997 he was named the American League Most Valuable Player, were he batted .304 and hit a career best 56 Homeruns.
From 1990 to1999 Junor made the all star team, and was also crowned the Home-run Derby Champion in 1994,1998, and 1999.
During this time period Ken Griffey Jr is often regarded by fans as the man who saved baseball in Seattle
. Additionally some feel that his team leadership skills and high playing ability is what ultimately led to the construction of the Mariners current stadium Safeco Field
, or "the house that Griffey built" as fans in Seattle like to say it, which opened at the start of the 1999 season, which would end up being Juniors final season with the Mariners before signing with the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati Reds (2000-2008)
At the end of the 1999 season Griffey's request for a trade to the Cincinnati Reds
was granted so that Junior could be closer to this family. His time in Cincinnati was plagued with multiple season ending injury's in 2002, 2003, and 2004, which kept him out of play for extend periods of time. While he reached key career milestones with the Reds, his playing ability was not as impressive as it was when he was with Seattle. During his time in Cincinnati Junior only made the all-star team 3 times in 2000, 2004, and 2007.
One of the first milestones Junior reached as a Red is when he became the 20th player in MLB history to reach the 500 career homerun mark when he hit a towering homerun to right field in St. Louis on Fathers Day, a game in which Griffey Sr. was attending. While Junior and the Reds were the visiting team, Junior received a standing ovation from the St. Louis fans.
At the start of the 2005 season Junior had aged, but was more healthy than he was in his early Cincinnati
years. His next milestone would come towards the beginning of the 2008 season were Junior hit his 600th career homerun in Florida against the Marlins were he received yet another standing ovation as a visiting player. Today, Junior is one of seven players to have hit 600 career homeruns in baseball history.
Chicago White Sox (2008)
At the July 31st 2008 trade deadline Junior was traded from Cincinnati to the Chicago White Sox
. However at the end of the Season, the White Sox released him, and for the first time in his career Junior became a free agent.
Seattle Mariners (2009 - 2010 and Retirement)
During the off-season after his short time with the White Sox, Junior announced that he would be returning to Seattle to play for the Mariners once again. Junior filled a minor roll, often coming off the bench to pinch hit, or filled the lineup as a designated hitter.
However, due to declining ability and age, by June in the 2010 season Ken Griffey Jr announced his retirement from baseball at the age of 40 and 21 seasons in the major leagues. Junior would exit with a career batting average of .284 and 630 career homeruns.
Career Statistics and Accomplishments
Batting Average: .284
Stolen Bases: 184
Strike outs: 1,779
10x Gold Glove Award Winner
3x Home run derby champion
7x Silver Slugger Award Winner
In Video Games
Ken Griffey Jr as a member of the players association has appeared in just about every yearly video game spanning his career. He was featured as the cover athlete in Ken Griffey Jr's Winning Run
and Ken Griffey Jr Presents Major League Baseball
for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
He was also featured in the video games Major League Baseball baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr
and Ken Griffey Jr's Slugfest
for the Nintendo 64