One More Year For A Personal Favorite

I was happy to read that Ken Griffey Jr. signed a contract on Wednesday to play one more season with the Seattle Mariners.


Griffey re.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


Griffey, who turns 40 later this month, ranks fifth in major league history with 630 home runs, and will begin his 22nd big league season in April.


“I’d like to thank the Mariners organization for inviting me back to play in 2010,” Griffey said in a statement.  “While 2009 was an awesome experience for me, my ultimate goal is for the Mariners to get to and win the World Series.”


I had the pleasure of getting to know Junior pretty well during the years that I hosted the Cincinnati Reds pre-game show on Fox Sports Ohio and he’s high on my list of all-time favorite professional athletes. 


I’ve blogged about Griffey before including:


How my wife helped him win the National League Comeback Player of the Year award.


Junior’s remarkable ability to pay tribute to his parents.


Here’s a Ken Griffey story that I haven’t written about.


I moved from Cincinnati to Boston in March of 2006 and before broadcasting my first game for Pawtucket, the team sent me to spring training for a week to get to know the players and coaches.


One afternoon in Ft. Myers my cell phone rang and the word “unavailable” appeared where the incoming phone number is usually displayed.  When I answered, the caller didn’t identify himself and I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t recognize the voice.


(You’ve done that before haven’t you?  Where you waste time trying to figure out the person on the other end of the line instead of simply saying, ‘Excuse me, but who the heck is this?’)


In this case, the caller asked me about my new job, where I was going to live, how my expectant wife was doing (Sam was born about 6 weeks later), and wished me luck.  It was only moments before we said goodbye that I realized the caller was Ken Griffey Jr.


The Mariners will be at Fenway next season on August 23, 24, and 25.  Take advantage of the opportunity to see a great player – and person – one last time.


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