Timeline: 23 years of Ken Griffey Jr.
A look at The Kid's career
Seattle Times Deputy Sports Editor
June 2: Mariners select Ken Griffey Jr. with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Maybe it's Roger Jongewaard who should get credit for saving baseball in Seattle. Jongewaard, the Mariners' director of scouting, was able to sway owner George Argyros, who wanted to take Cal State Fullerton pitcher Mike Harkey.
June 8: Before reporting to play for Bellingham, Griffey stops by the Kingdome to take batting practice with the Mariners. After watching him rip line drives all over the field and home runs into the right-field seats, third-base coach Ozzie Virgil says, "Wow! Let's play him tonight."
• Griffey hits 14 homers in 54 games with the Baby M's.
• Griffey splits the season between San Bernardino and Vermont. For the second year in a row, he is named his league's top prospect by Baseball America. Apparently, no one else in the California League looked like they were going to hit 630 home runs in the majors.
• Griffey, just 19 years old, is given the center-field job by manager Jim Lefebvre after a great spring. And so ends the Henry Cotto era.
April 3: Griffey doubles off Dave Stewart in his first major-league at-bat, in Oakland.
April 10: On the first pitch he saw at the Kingdome, Griffey hits a home run, off the White Sox's Eric King.
• Despite missing four weeks with a broken finger, Griffey hits .264 with 16 home runs. The youngest player in the majors is popular from the start, even getting his own candy bar.
• Griffey is the first Mariner elected as a starter for the All-Star Game, the first of 11 straight years he was selected for the game.
Sept. 14: Hits back-to-back home runs with his father, Ken Griffey Sr. The home runs come in the first inning, at Anaheim, off Angels starter Kirk McCaskill.
• Wins the first of 10 consecutive Gold Gloves.
May 25: Makes one of his greatest catches, robbing Ruben Sierra with a backhanded grab before crashing into the wall.
June: Mariners draft Griffey's younger brother Craig in the 42nd round. After having played with his father during the 1990 season, Griffey hoped he'd play one day with his brother, but that only happened at spring training. Craig hit .224 in his minor-league career, and was out of baseball after the 1997 season.
July 9: Goes 2 for 3 in the All-Star Game at Toronto after being American League's top vote-getter.
• Best season yet: .327, 22 home runs, 100 RBI.
July 14: All-Star Game MVP after going 3 for 3, including a home run off Greg Maddux. It is the first home run by a Mariner in an All-Star Game. What, you thought it was Bruce Bochte?
• Another strong season — .308, 27 home runs, 103 RBI.
July 13: Becomes first player to hit warehouse beyond right field at Camden Yards, during All-Star Home Run Derby.
July 20-28: Ties major-league record by hitting home runs in eight straight games. On July 29, hits a double off the wall, falling just short of nine in a row.
Aug. 10: Hits his 33rd home run, to break Mariners season record, which had been set by Gorman Thomas in 1985. Griffey finishes with 45 homers and tops 100 RBI for third straight year, .300 batting average for fourth year in a row.
Oct. 2: Plays first base during the second-to-last game of the season at Minnesota. Why? Because he can.
June 15: OK, it's not exactly like becoming the Yankees' all-time leader, but home run No. 161 makes Griffey the Mariners' leader, passing Alvin Davis.
July 11: Griffey wins the first of three Home Run Derby titles. He is elected to his fifth straight All-Star Game with the highest vote total in history.
• Griffey hits 40 home runs in the strike-shortened season, is first Mariner to lead the American League in homers.
• Receives the 1994 Celebrity Recognition Award from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, one of his favorite charities.
May 26: Makes a spectacular catch against Baltimore's Kevin Bass, but breaks his left wrist and misses the next 73 games.
Aug. 24: Shortly after returning to the lineup, hits a two-run walkoff home run off closer John Wetteland to beat the Yankees as the Mariners began miracle rally to win AL West.
Sept. 18-26: In a crucial seven-game win streak against division opponents, Griffey hits .448 with four home runs and 12 RBI, driving in at least one run in each game.
Oct. 3-8: Hits .391 with five home runs in the five-game division series victory over the Yankees.
Oct. 8: Scores on The Double. You may have heard of this.
May 21: On his way to 49 home runs, career HR No. 200 comes at Boston.
May 24: First three-homer game, against the Yankees.
June 2: Steals his 100th base, becomes first Mariner with at least 100 home runs and 100 steals.
Aug. 19: Sorry Alvin. Career hit No. 1,164 moves Griffey past Davis and to the top of the Mariners' all-time list.
April 8: Nice start to the season — two home runs off Yankees' David Cone on opening day.
April 25: Three-homer game against Toronto, two off Roger Clemens. The third, off Mike Timlin, is No. 250 of Griffey's career.
Oct. 1-5: Griffey leads the Mariners to the AL West title and a second trip to the playoffs in three years, but they are beaten by the Orioles. (Yes, kids, once upon a time the Orioles were good). Griffey hits just .133 in the series, and Mariners are eliminated in four games, losing twice to Mike Mussina.
• Griffey is the 13th player to be named unanimous league MVP after hitting .304 with 56 home runs and 147 RBI. He collects the usual honors — Golden Glove, Silver Slugger, All-Star Game starter.
Sept. 25: Home run No. 350 comes against Texas and makes Griffey, 28, youngest to reach that mark.
• Griffey hits 56 home runs for the second year in a row, and people start doing the math on a Griffey run at Hank Aaron's record of 755.
June 27: It is only fitting that Joey Cora hits the final home run at the Kingdome. Just kidding. It's Griffey, of course, whose 198th home run at the dome is the last one hit there in a major-league game.
July 15: Mariners play their first game at Safeco Field, where Griffey hits .278 with 14 home runs in 42 games in '99.
• Griffey (.285, 48, 134) concludes amazing four-year run in which he averages 52 home runs and 142 RBI and leads AL in home runs three times.
• Griffey is named to the 30-player All-Century team, and is named Player of the Decade.
Feb. 10: After requesting a trade to be closer to his family, Griffey gets his wish. The Mariners send him to Cincinnati for outfielder Mike Cameron, pitcher Brett Tomko, infielder Antonio Perez and minor-league pitcher Jake Meyer.
• Despite being bothered by hamstring injuries much of the season, Griffey puts up good numbers his first season with the Reds — .271, 40 HR, 118 RBI. The power numbers — and the 145 games he played — turn out to be the best he would have in Cincinnati.
• Because of a torn left hamstring, Griffey doesn't make his first start until 65th game of the season — and still hits 22 home runs and drives in 65 runs.
• Griffey plays just 70 games in season wiped out by knee, hamstring, quadriceps and hip injuries.
June 18: Griffey gets hit No. 2,000 off Mariners' Joel Pineiro in an interleague game at Cincinnati.
• Injury problems get even worse, limiting Griffey to 53 games.
March 31: Has the first hit at new Great American Ballpark, first-inning double off Kris Benson. The thrill of that is erased quickly by a 10-1 loss. To the Pirates.
July 8-12: Griffey hits home runs in five straight games, tying a Reds record.
July 17: In the first game after the All-Star break, Griffey's home-run streak, and his season, come to an end when he suffers an ankle injury.
June 20: Griffey hits home run No. 500, then reads "Top 10 thoughts that went through Ken Griffey Jr.s' mind as he hit his 500th home run," on David Letterman's show. No. 6: "I'm five percent of the way to 10,000 home runs."
• Griffey plays 83 games, with this year's season-ending surgery coming Aug. 16 to repair a torn hamstring.
June 19: For the fifth time, hits a home run on Father's Day.
Sept. 4: Home run No. 536 at Atlanta ties Mickey Mantle for 12th on all-time list. The same day, Griffey sprains his right foot and misses the rest of the season.
• Hits .301 with 35 homers and 92 RBI, and is NL comeback player of the year.
March 3-20: Griffey plays for the U.S team in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, hitting .524 with three home runs.
Sept. 25: Home run No. 563 ties Griffey with Reggie Jackson for 10th on the all-time list. If he'd have finished there, we'd have gone to candy bars for the tiebreaker.
• Injuries limit Griffey to 109 games, but he hits 27 home runs with 72 RBI.
• Griffey stays healthy most of the season, playing 144 games. He hits 30 home runs, drives in 90 runs and makes his final All-Star team.
June 22-24: Three-game lovefest at Safeco Field sets the stage for Griffey's return to the Mariners in 2009. Griffey is greeted with a 10-minute standing ovation before the first game, when he addresses the Seattle crowd. He hits two home runs in the final game of the series.
"It's been a lot of fun," Griffey says afterward. "Everything I thought it would be and more."
July 16: Home run No. 587 moves him into sixth place.
June 9: Hits home run No. 600 off Mark Hendrickson, the only former Washington State basketball player to surrender a homer to Griffey.
July 31: Traded by the Reds to the White Sox for pitcher Nick Masset and infielder Danny Richar.
Aug. 20: First home run with White Sox is No. 609, tying Sammy Sosa for fifth place.
Oct. 2-6: In his final postseason series, Griffey is 2 for 10 (both singles) in three games as the White Sox are beaten by Tampa Bay in four.
Feb. 18: After going back and forth, Griffey chooses the Mariners over Atlanta, signing a one-year deal with the Mariners.
"You're talking about arguably the greatest athlete that's ever played in the Northwest," Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says after signing Griffey.
April 6: Hits a home run at Minnesota, his eighth on opening day, tying Frank Robinson for most in major-league history.
Oct. 3: Hits home run No. 630 off Texas' Tommy Hunter, leading off the bottom of the fourth to give Mariners a 1-0 lead in eventual 2-1 win.
Oct. 4: Griffey, who hit .214 with 19 home runs and 57 RBI, is carried around the field on the shoulders of his teammates in a feel-good ending to the Mariners' 85-win season.
Nov. 11: Signs another one-year contract with the Mariners, this one not as popular with Seattle fans as the 2009 deal had been.
June 2: After a rough start — a .184 batting average, no home runs, a story quoting anonymous teammates that he had fallen asleep during a game, being benched — Griffey retires, 23 years to the day after he was drafted. The announcement is made by the Mariners as Griffey drives home to Florida.
"It's tough to close the book on a ballplayer like Ken Griffey Jr.," Mariners DH Mike Sweeney says. "There's going to be a big void that will never be filled. You can't match a Ken Griffey Jr., what he has accomplished on the field, his heart. You can't replace Ken Griffey Jr."
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