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Originally published Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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See you at Safeco, say Seattle fans

Mariners fans made one thing clear after hearing that Ken Griffey Jr. will return to Seattle: See you at Safeco. The surprise signing Wednesday...

Special to The Seattle Times

Mariners fans made one thing clear after hearing that Ken Griffey Jr. will return to Seattle: See you at Safeco.

The surprise signing Wednesday fired up fans around Seattle sports bars as the news spread. Many of them said they plan to attend more games because of Griffey's return to the team with which he broke in.

"We've gone to games every year, but we'll definitely go to a couple more now that Griffey is back," said Henry Leen, who lives in both Seattle and Spokane, sitting at the bar at FOX Sports Grill. "The people here love him. He's definitely going to get a lot of butts in the seats."

The news made people forget, at least temporarily, the team's recent struggles.

The decision to sign Griffey to a one-year contract could boost attendance.

Wide smiles came to the faces of fans who reminisced of No. 24 patrolling center field and launching 450-foot bombs into the Kingdome's upper deck. A couple even remember owning and protecting Griffey's valuable Upper Deck rookie card.

"It's great that he can finish his career in Seattle and retire here," said Nick Morgan, who is visiting from Wisconsin but roots for the Mariners and the Brewers. "I think a lot of people will go to games just to watch him play."

The support, however, was far more unilateral.

"If he really wanted to be a Mariner, he would've already signed by now," said Seattle's Jenny Jones.

When asked if she thought Griffey was loyal to Seattle, Jones replied, "No. Not at all."

Jones believes Griffey showed disrespect for the city and its fans as he demanded a trade to Cincinnati. Jones also questioned the productivity of the 39-year-old, who has had numerous injury concerns throughout his career.

"He's not 25 anymore," she said.

Kevin Lamb of Woodinville, checking out a newspaper at The Ram in University Village, said: "I think Griffey's return to Seattle is good for his sake. I'm sure he's happy to retire here, and it's good for him. I'm not completely convinced it's good for the team's sake."

Fans had concerns over Griffey's health and productivity, but most gave him the benefit of the doubt.

"Who knows? Maybe his return will bring a spark both to him and the team," Lamb said.

Most fans were excited to see Griffey back in a Mariners uniform. Sure, they don't expect the magic of that 1995 playoff run.

But Wednesday night, they didn't really care.

"Considering the last few years the Mariners have had, anything is good news," Lamb said.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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