Although the highlight of baseball last night may have been Jim Joyce’s attempt to take a young pitcher’s heart out of his chest and destroy it by blowing a call on the last out, which would have given Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
A part of my heart has been destroyed as well, as one of the best players in the last two decades has officially decided to put down the bat and call it quits.
Ken Griffey Jr. at one point of his career was considered the best player in the league. However, with constant injuries sidelining Griffey from re-inking the record books, Griffey did not become the home run king like some expected but the first round draft pick of the 1987 draft did not disappoint.
Ending 5th on the all time home run list, Griffey with his perfect swing motion did not only deserve to be on that list but did it with no questioning of steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs. He also was not just a beast on the bat but has arguably revolutionized the way center field has ever been played, with his run downs and wall grabs that look as effortless as his swing. Griffey was an all around lovable guy that was in countless commercials and magazines, encouraging young baseball lovers with his backwards hat and positive attitude. With his comforting and respectable sportsmanship, he inspired not just young African American kids but every kid who aspired to play in the majors.
Griffey spent most of his career in Seattle where he brought alive a baseball team that was unfamiliar to real success before 1995. However, Griffey Jr. helped the city of Seattle come to life as they won their first divisional championship against the New York Yankees, where who else but the young smile of Griffey Jr. was seen all over the world as he slid into home base in the 12th inning to send the Mariners to their first championship.
Giving Seattle the greatest moment they’ve had in baseball history and arguably the best player they’ve ever had, a lot like myself are sad to see one of the best leave from the game.
Who knows what kind of career Griffey would have had without his injuries, could he have possibly been the home run king? Although we may not ever know, what we do know is that from hitting back to back homers with his dad, to the 600th home run he hit injured and wore down yet still swinging that perfected motion, Griffey Jr. will leave baseball as one of the greatest to have ever played it and should still have that smile he had when he entered.
Hats off to you Mr. Ken Griffey Jr., you have made all of us proud and we look forward to seeing you in Cooperstown.