Induction ceremony for Ken Griffey Jr. will be in August
Ken Griffey Jr. has a spot in Cooperstown awaiting him in 2016, but he’ll get a Hall of Fame warm-up in August.
The Mariners announced Tuesday that Griffey will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Safeco Field on Aug. 10, before a game with the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It’s something you dream about,” Griffey said in a conference call. “It’s the organization you got drafted by, the celebration of your career. It means a whole lot they’d think that highly of me and what I’ve done to put my name up there with the rest of the guys.”
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Griffey, who turned 43 in November, will join the late announcer, Dave Niehaus, in the Mariners’ Hall of Fame, as well as five of his former teammates: Alvin Davis, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson.
The camaraderie and growth he experienced with those players were a highlight of his career, Griffey said.
“We were guys who played hard, had fun and learned from each other,” he said. “We were all young enough to not really know better and have egos. We just wanted to play baseball, and everybody took care of everybody.”
Griffey, the No. 1 overall choice in the 1987 draft, made the Mariners’ opening-day lineup as a teenager in 1989, and quickly became the most prominent, and popular, player in the major leagues. He was traded to the Reds, at his request, after the 1999 season, and returned to Seattle in 2009.
Griffey stands sixth on the career home-run list with 630, with 417 coming as a Mariner.
The image of him racing around the bases to score on Martinez’s double in the 1995 playoffs against the Yankees, then beaming beneath a pile of teammates, is the most iconic in franchise history.
Asked what he felt was the most formative time during his Seattle career, Griffey pointed to the two seasons (1990 and 1991) he spent as a teammate with his father, Ken Griffey Sr.
“He set up pitchers better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Griffey said. “Just to have someone there who could do it, and when he came home tell you about what he tried to do.”
Griffey said he and his wife, Melissa, still are considering moving to Seattle with youngest son Tevin once their daughter Taryn graduates from high school. That would bring them closer to their oldest son Trey, a football player at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The Griffeys currently live in Orlando, Fla.
“We have so many family and friends who live in the great Northwest,” he said. “When I came back (in 2009), the first question I asked Melissa was, ‘Do you want to move back?’ “
Griffey has served as a special consultant with the Mariners since 2011.
He has not made a public appearance at Safeco since he abruptly retired June 2, 2010, shortly after the furor over a published report — denied by Griffey and the team — that he had been asleep and missed a pinch-hitting opportunity in a game.
He said he’s not sure what sort of emotions he will feel when introduced in August.
“I haven’t thought about it, not yet,” he said. “If it’s anything like when I came back in ’07 (with the Reds) and again in ’09, it will be greatly appreciated, and it will be an honor.”
Griffey also hasn’t thought about Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame, he insisted.
“I don’t really worry about that,” he said. “It’s a couple of years away. I have to keep plugging away on what I’m doing now in my role with the Mariners. When the time comes, I’ll cross that bridge. Right now, we have to try to get this team and this organization where I think it should be.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @StoneLarry