THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...
When Ken Griffey Jr. debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 1989, the Internet was still primarily a research tool for academics. Today, the club announced via Twitter that he has decided to retire from baseball, ending one of the great careers of this or any era of baseball history. He retires as the leader among active players with 630 home runs. That distinction goes to Griffey's former teammate, Alex Rodriguez who has 590.
The Kid brough an infectious exuberance for the game that lifted the moribund Mariner franchise. Prior to his arrival, they were best known for being the club that struck out 20 times against Roger Clemens. He built the Mariner brand almost by himself. In his seventh season the Mariners won the AL West and made the playoffs for the firs time in franchise history.They would return again in 1997, Griffey's MVP season. In those first eleven seasons, he hit 398 home runs, posted a batting line of .299/.380/.569, went to ten All-Star games and won ten Gold Gloves.
Just two and a half months after his 30th birthday, Griffey was traded from the Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds, at once a shocking and understandable transition. Seattle had become home. Cincinnati was going home. The city he knew growing up, where his father played, welcomed him back as a favorite son.
But injuries slowly robbed the promise his Seattle seasons suggested. And though his overall numbers were still impressive, especially for a centerfelder, they could not touch those of his youth. A subsequent trade after eight and a half seasons with the Reds brought him to Chicago to play for the White Sox, and then finally prior to the 2009 season, Seattle became home again.
He concludes his career the active leader in home runs with 630, a distinction he passes to his former teammate Alex Rodriguez who has 590. He's a certain Hall of Famer and should be a first ballot selection. His announcement comes as a surprise but is also a reflection of his diminished ability. After 22 seasons, The Kid bids adieu to baseball. He will be missed.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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