By: Brooks L | 08/17/2023
Ken Griffey Jr. amassed 630 home runs in his career, which ranks seventh all-time in MLB history.
On this edition of Throwback Thursday, we explore the legendary career of one of baseball's most prolific power hitters, Ken Griffey Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr., whose full name is George Kenneth Griffey Jr., is a former professional baseball player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest outfielders in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). He was born on November 21, 1969, in Donora, Pennsylvania.
He was nicknamed "The Kid" due to the outstanding talent he showed on the field and his youthful looks. He was also called "Junior", which was shorthand for his given name.
Griffey Jr. is best known for his time with the Seattle Mariners, where he played from 1989 to 1999 and then again briefly in 2009. He was known for his incredible athleticism, smooth swing, and exceptional defensive skills in center field. He is often remembered for wearing his baseball cap backward, a fashion trend that became synonymous with his persona.
Heading into the 2000 season, it appeared Griffey Jr. would eventually break most every offensive and defensive record that he set his sights on. However, major injuries plagued him over the next decade. Despite respectable output, he was never the superstar caliber player that he demonstrated in the 1990s.
Ken Griffey Jr. became a sports culture icon through his inclusion in video games, movies, television, and commercials. Griffey had a licensing deal with MLB and Nintendo, releasing a series of Ken Griffey, Jr. titled video games in 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999. These titles were fun to play and were regarded as some of the top baseball video game simulations of the 1990s.
• Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents MLB (1994)
• Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Winning Run (1996)
• MLB Featuring Ken Griffey, Jr. (1998)
• Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Slugfest (1999)
Who remembers this gem "Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents MLB" on SNES?
Griffey Jr. had impressive cameo’s in baseball movies such as “Little Big League” and “Summer Catch” where he played in the pivotal scenes of the films. These movies further solidified Griffey Jr.’s impact on baseball and pop culture.
Throughout his career, Griffey Jr. achieved numerous accomplishments and accolades, including:
• 13-time All-Star
• 10 Gold Glove Awards
• 7 Silver Slugger Awards
• 1997 American League MVP
• 2016 Hall of Fame Induction
Griffey Jr. was known for his power-hitting ability, consistently hitting home runs throughout his career. He finished his MLB career with 630 home runs, which ranks him sixth on the all-time home run list.
In addition to his time with the Mariners, Griffey Jr. also played for the Cincinnati Reds from 2000 to 2008 and briefly for the Chicago White Sox. His time with the Reds was notable for his partnership with his father, Ken Griffey Sr., who also played for the Reds in his career.
In 1999, Giffey Jr. ranked 93rd on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. This list was compiled during the 1998 season, counting only statistics through 1997. At age 29, he was the youngest player to make the list. That same year, Griffey was elected to the MLB All-Century Team and became the youngest player to accomplish this feat as well.
On August 31st 1990, Griffey Jr. and his father, Ken Griffey Sr., became the first father-son duo to play in the same MLB lineup for the Seattle Mariners. In the first inning, both Griffeys lined singles in their first at-bat.
Griffey Sr. was fond of the experience playing with Jr. calling it a "dream come true."
The first father-son duo to appear in the same MLB lineup.
The G.O.A.T. In Baseball?
Ken Griffey Jr. is widely regarded as one of the most talented and accomplished baseball players in history. While opinions on the "greatest player of all time" can vary due to personal preferences and biases, Griffey's skill set and accomplishments certainly put him in the conversation.
Griffey's combination of power, speed, defensive prowess, and charisma made him a standout player during his era. He was a 13-time All-Star, won 10 Gold Glove Awards, and was known for his incredible swing and ability to hit for both average and power. He finished his career with 630 home runs, which ranks among the all-time leaders. His impact extended beyond his on-field performance, as he was a fan favorite and helped popularize baseball during his prime.
However, whether Griffey could be considered the "greatest player of all time" is a subjective question. Baseball history is filled with legendary players like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, and many others who are also contenders for that title. Comparing players from different eras can be challenging due to differences in the game's context, competition level, and various other factors.
Ken Griffey Jr. pictured next to Mike Piazza as they were both inducted to the HOF in 2016.
Griffey's career was affected by injuries, which limited his overall statistical output and potentially prevented him from surpassing some of the records held by players like Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. Additionally, factors like longevity, statistical dominance, versatility, and impact on the game all contribute to the evaluation of a player's greatness.
Ken Griffey Jr. certainly has a strong case for being one of the greatest players of all time due to his exceptional skills and achievements. However, the title of "greatest player of all time" remains a matter of personal perspective and debate within the baseball community.
Griffey's swing was characterized by its fluidity, balance, and remarkable bat speed. His left-handed swing had a combination of power and grace that made him a dominant force at the plate. He was known for his ability to hit home runs with ease, and he won numerous accolades during his career, including 13 All-Star selections and 10 Gold Glove Awards for his fielding prowess.
When people refer to the "Ken Griffey Jr. swing," they are often talking about his iconic batting style and the elegance he brought to the game. His swing is often imitated by aspiring baseball players due to its effectiveness and aesthetic appeal.
In 1995, Ken Griffey Jr.'s fabled swing was transformed into Swingman, an internationally recognizable brand and icon. This historic partnership between Nike and Ken Griffey Jr., which has a building on the Nike Campus devoted to the man behind the brand, has become one of the highest-grossing sports apparel brands globally. It has continued to evolve, welcoming an elite group of Swingman Brand Ambassadors to accurately represent Ken Griffey Jr. and his iconic brand.
Ken Griffey Jr. remains a beloved figure in the baseball world and is remembered as one of the most talented and exciting players to ever grace the field. He continues to give back to the game serving as the MLB and MLBPA Youth Development Foundation's Youth Ambassador. Ken supports the foundation's aim to improve the standard of baseball and softball education, address overall youth participation, and assist youngsters, including those from marginalized communities, develop their relationship with the game via his love of the game and dedication to youth.
Baseball is truly a better game because of Ken Giffey Jr. If it wasn’t for injuries, there is no doubt “The Kid” would have broken every offensive and defensive statistical category in MLB and be regarded as the Greatest of All Time.
Ultimately, Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career cannot be measured simply by numbers. There is a reason why Griffey Jr. received the highest percentage (99.3 percent) of votes of any hall-of-fame player in the history of baseball. He was one of the most gifted and had arguably the smoothest playing style the game has ever seen. He is a cultural icon and adored by the entire baseball community.
Ken Griffey Jr. makes an amazing catch before crashing into the wall and injuring himself, 1991.
Where does Ken Griffey Jr. end up in the all-time ranks without injuries?
Let us know in the OTD Sports forum thread ⬇️