Ken Griffey Jr. “The Kid”
Ken Griffey Jr. was born in Donora, Pennsylvania but spent much of his childhood in Cincinnati, since his father was a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Griffey didn’t even end up playing college ball, after he was drafted straight out of high school after winning the US Baseball Player of the Year award in 1987.
He received his nickname “The Kid” from being the youngest player in the major leagues, as well as being the son of another active major league professional with the same name, Ken Griffey Sr.
Griffey Jr. was drafted 1st overall by the Seattle Mariners organization in 1987, and would spend his initial years playing for their minor league organizations before being called up to the majors in 1989. It didn’t take long for him to start producing, making the All-Star game in 1990.
From there, he never looked back. Griffey may have the most beautiful swing baseball has ever seen, and he became one of the best hitters of all-time, ranking top 10 in home runs and finishing with 2,781 hits.
If it weren’t for injuries, Griffey would have come much closer to breaking the home run record. Even so, he finished with 630 home runs, only 132 behind Barry Bonds’ MLB record of 762. During his worst injury-riddled years between 2002 and 2004, Griffey missed 260 out of 486 possible games. In total, he played in 2,671 games out of a possible 3,564. Although not all of these were missed due to injury, it gives you an idea how close he could’ve came to owning the home run record.
Don’t believe for a second that Griffey was just an offensive talent though. He was one of the best defensive center fielders to ever roam the outfield. He also has one of the most iconic home run robberies of all-time, a play where he broke his wrist scaling the wall to make an amazing catch.
He also helped pave the way for baseball players with his Nike signature line, helping others get contracts like his. His Nike Griffey models are classics in the sneaker community.
Being one of the greatest players of all-time, Griffey has an incredible repertoire of accomplishments. He is a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove award winner, and 7-time Silver Slugger winner.
In what may be one of the coolest sports feats ever, Griffey and his father, Ken Griffey Sr., hit back to back home runs in a 1990 game for the Seattle Mariners. This is something that may very well never be done again, as one of the more amazing sports moments of all-time.
Griffey’s best season was probably in 1997 as a Mariner. He led the American League in both home runs and runs batted in, and won the Most Valuable Player award. He had a batting average of .304 and career highs of 185 hits, 56 home runs, 147 RBI’s, and 125 runs scored. This is a stat line that any MLB player would dream of putting up, and when paired with his defensive ability, it’s no wonder why Griffey won the AL MVP.
He would leave the Mariners a few seasons later in 2000 and return to where he spent much of his childhood, playing for the Cincinnati Reds. This is when he unfortunately began to deal with frequent injury problems. From the first time he hit 40+ home runs in 1993, Griffey hit 40+ home runs every time he played at least 100 games up until his first year as a Red in 2000. From 2001-2008 he only managed to hit 30+ home runs twice, largely due to injuries.
He played a brief stint in Chicago for the White Sox before returning to the Seattle to retire as a Mariner. Griffey returned to the team where he spent the best years of his career in 2009, and eventually had his number retired for the organization. Griffey was also inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner in 2016. Even after his retirement Griffey couldn’t help but break more records, receiving the highest percentage of votes for a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee ever, at 99.32%. The Kid is without a doubt a certified legend.