Today after watching nearly 13 2/3rds of scoreless baseball between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks on the MLB Network I was greeted with the “breaking news” that Ken Griffey Jr. was going to retire. Others who are more talented and certainly more educated will speak of Griffey Jr.’s place in the annals of the game. Rattle off stats. Awards. His hat size.

Griffey, most recently in the news for a ill timed nap is a sure fire Hall of Famer. Most likely “first ballot”. His 630 home runs are all the more impressive because of the fact that he hasn’t been linked to steroids… and if it wasn’t for injuries we could be wondering if he would have pushed after the all time HR record.

He was an MVP. He won gold gloves. Silver Sluggers. All amazing things, but most importantly to me and millions of other baseball fans my age (I’m now 30)…

Ken Griffey Jr. was my favorite player while growing up.

Nicknamed “The Kid” because he broke into the majors at 19, and reinforced by his youthful exuberance on the field. For every home run he hit. Every amazing diving catch. When I hear the name Griffey Jr.? I picture a Mariners hat on backwards, and a huge smile. I picture someone having FUN. In this era of salary issues, and disgruntled players crying “ME ME ME”. Any time I think of The Kid I picture that smile. I wanted to play like that. I wanted to have fun like that. I wanted to wear #24, and any time I got to play centerfield on my Little League or All Star team I’d be incredibly happy because that was where my favorite player played. I saved my news paper route money so I could buy my first New Era Fitted Hat. Did I buy a Mets hat, who were and are my favorite team? No. I bought a Seattle Mariners hat because of Jr. So I could wear the hat backwards like I had seen on ESPN.

Griffey Jr.

So I could take batting practice with it on, like I had seen in the Home Run Derby.

Griffey Batting Practice

My uncle got my parents and I tickets to Yankee Stadium to see Seattle play… for the sole purpose of seeing Griffey Jr.

The sweetest left handed swing has made its final appearance. Pundits will now speak of Griffey’s place in history. His “Hall of Fame Resume”. “What could have been…”

I just want to thank Ken Griffey Jr. and hope he realizes what he meant to a generation of baseball fans. He is my definition of a “5 tool player”. Showing people that it is okay to have fun playing the game, and still play at the highest level.