Outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame at Safeco Field this evening, an event which preceded the team’s game against the Brewers. Griffey, often known as “Junior”, spent 13 of his 22 years in the Majors with the Mariners, hitting 417 of his 630 career home runs and helping usher in an era of prosperity, something not previously seen by the Mariners franchise dating back to 1977.
Griffey had a number of unforgettable moments in his career, from milestone home runs to great catches, but perhaps none more memorable than when he scored the winning run in the 11th inning of Game 5 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the Yankees. Though the Mariners were knocked out of the playoffs in the ALCS against the Indians, the Mariners would reach the post-season again in 1997, when they lost the ALDS in four games to the Orioles.
As Griffey approached free agency, the Mariners made a very tough decision and opted to trade him to the Reds in February 2000. The trade brought in their center fielder of the future in Mike Cameron, who helped the Mariners set a Major League record with 116 wins in 2001. Cameron, however, could never fill the rather large shoes vacated by Griffey.
Had injuries not interfered with his career, Griffey almost certainly would have joined the 700 home run club along with Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. Nevertheless, he retired as one of the best players not only of his generation but of all-time.
Congratulations to Junior for his induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame.