Ken Griffey Jr. kicked off a Hall of Fame summer by throwing out the first pitch in the Mariners' home opener Friday night.

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The Kid is now a Hall of Famer with flecks of gray protruding from the patch of hair on his chin.

But as Ken Griffey Jr. walked onto Safeco Field to throw out the opening pitch before the Mariners’ home opener Friday night, he still thought like a player.

Speaking to reporters before the game, Griffey had said, “I won’t go to the mound. … I wouldn’t want a pitcher coming in there and tearing up my batter’s box, so I feel that the starting pitcher should have the first toe on the rubber to start the year.’’

So Griffey picked up the waiting ball and without touching the dirt fired a strike to Felix Hernandez, one of only two active Mariners players to have been his teammate (Franklin Gutierrez is the other). Griffey then quickly “Felixed” in unison with Hernandez and led the crowd in a brief arm wave as “Hip Hop Hooray,” his ubiquitous walk-up song at Safeco Field and the Kingdome, played while he walked off the field.

The pitch followed a clip on the video board of Griffey getting the call that he had been voted into the Hall. He received 99.32 percent of the votes, the most in baseball history. The Safeco Field video also showed some highlights, capped by the slide that won the 1995 American League Division Series against the Yankees, a play that remains the seminal moment in franchise history.

Then came the unveiling of a Countdown to Cooperstown hanging above right-center field (107 days as of Friday).

Griffey’s pitch provided a ceremonial beginning to the Mariners’ home season, and what will be the summer of Griffey in Seattle. He will become first player to have spent the majority of his career with the team to enter the Hall of Fame.

Griffey was elected into the Hall in January and will be inducted on July 24 in Cooperstown, N.Y. He’ll then return to Seattle to have his jersey retired Aug. 6. The Mariners announced that no player at any level of the organization will wear Griffey’s No. 24.

If those moments figure to be be fraught with emotion for Griffey, Friday was mostly about fun.

Asked what the last three months as a Hall of Famer have been like, Griffey smiled and said, “It’s been really good. I mean playing golf. And playing golf. For me, it’s trying to dodge things, not get caught up (in it). I’ve got a great support network of friends and family who don’t come to my house to talk about Hall of Fame stuff. I tell everybody the last thing I did that night (that he was elected) was do the dishes and go to bed and then catch a flight.’’

What might be the hardest part of the process — writing his speech — remains.

“I have been giving it some thought about my speech,’’ he said. “But I have not sat down and put pen to paper yet. But I do have some things I want to talk about.’’

He indicated Friday, though, that the messiness of each of his Mariners’ departures probably won’t play a prominent role in that speech, if at all.

Traded to Cincinnati in 2000 after the 11 seasons that make up the bulk of his Hall of Fame resume, he returned in 2009, then retired suddenly in June 2010, at the time leaving without saying a word.

But today, Griffey said, there are “no hard feelings. None. Things are out of people’s control, and sometimes you have to look back and go, ‘OK, it was a decision that was made based on families and things like that and what’s best for my family and not what everybody thought the decision should be.’

“But it was just one of those things that happened. I think with the situation that is going on now, it was a very easy decision for me to put on a Mariners hat to go to the Hall of Fame. That was not even a question.’’

Griffey holds the title of special consultant to the franchise and spent a few days at spring training, one morning speaking at a team meeting.

“Got him to talk and express his opinions a little bit, which was great, and had some of the players ask him questions,’’ first-year manager Scott Servais said. “Whether it was about video games he was a star in back in his day, or the real game. It was fun. We’re starting to build relationships with alumni here, and certainly a Hall of Famer like Junior, it’s special he’s back here tonight.’’

Griffey thought so, too.

“Excited,’’ said Griffey, who called the moment like being “a kid in a candy story. … anytime it’s opening day as a player, a former player, it’s still this is the greatest day in sports.’’