We forget how amazing Ken Griffey Jr. was at playing baseball. We see him now, old, heavier, slow with the wrists, plodding down the basepaths – and we forget that ‘The Kid’ was one of the greatest to ever play the game of baseball. But all good things end.
“While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction,” Griffey said in a statement.
“I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be,” he said.
And so Griffey retired today, ending the career of an amazing player.
Much will be written in the coming days about Griffey, but one only has to look at the following to realize how great he was:
630 career home runs (fifth all-time)
13 All Star appearances
11 Gold Gloves in centerfield – one of the most difficult positions to play in baseball
.907 career OPS
1 MVP Award
And amazingly, Griffey did without the stain of steroid or growth hormones that have tainted so many of his peers (McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod).
Griffey could have put up even bigger numbers, but he played a physically demanding position and never shied away from running into the wall or diving for a ball. Injuries took their toll on Griffey, and the second half of his career was littered with trips to the disabled list.
To ‘The Kid’ we say thanks. See you in Cooperstown in five years.