By Brady Henderson
Friday was a day of reminiscing for Ken Griffey Jr., who made the media rounds and relived some of the memorable moments of his career a day before his induction into the Mariners’ Hall of Fame.
Griffey sat down with “Bob and Groz” after a luncheon at Safeco Field. Here are a few highlights:
Not a self-promoter. Griffey was the face of the Mariners for an entire decade and arguably the best baseball player of his generation, but for all the attention he received during his 22-year career, he never felt at ease in the spotlight. At least when it came to talking about himself.
The Mariners will induct Ken Griffey Jr. into the team’s Hall of Fame on Saturday. (AP)
“It wasn’t me. I grew up in a household where my dad [thought] it’s better that other people talk about you than you talk about yourself. When we talk about other players, I’m the first to talk about it; you talk about me, I’d like try to slide back and get out of the way because it’s just not something I’m really comfortable doing.
“My dad wasn’t a self-promoter, he didn’t teach that in the house. My kids, when it comes to talking about themselves, they don’t want to do it. You could look at some of the interviews that they’ve done over the years and I start laughing because it reminds me so much of me.”
Griffey will become the seventh member of the Mariners’ Hall of Fame when he’s inducted before Saturday’s game. Speaking in front of a packed house at Safeco Field (assuming he does) should be an emotional experience, especially with all the family, friends and former teammates who will be in attendance. Son Trey, a redshirt freshman wide receiver at Arizona, won’t be there because of a football-related commitment, but he’ll be in is dad’s mind.
“Just can’t cry in front of your kids because then they start talking about you,” Griffey said with a laugh. “I can hear Trey in the back of my head: ‘Don’t cry, you punk.'”
Very superstitious. Griffey was on different level than just about every player he played with or against, but he stressed how important it always was to him to be “one of the guys.” One thing he had in common with many of his peers was a superstitious nature.
He once drove to teammate Jay Buhner’s house in the middle of the night with one of his bats, hoping to get in on some of the good mojo Buhner was enjoying during a hitting tear. Those two wouldn’t break from their routine during Seattle’s playoff run in 1995, Griffey picking up Buhner on getaway days and enjoying a soda at his house before they headed to the ballpark.
“I have traded in a car because it didn’t have any hits. I have taken off all my clothes and thrown them in the garbage can – after a spring training game,” he said. “But for the most part, I’m normal.”
‘You look like an axe murderer.’ Pro sports in general and major-league clubhouses in particular are melting pots, and part of that experience for Griffey meant being exposed to different musical tastes. Buhner liked country. Randy Johnson was a fan of grunge, which originated in Seattle and exploded during Griffey’s early years with the Mariners. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and the like were popular choices on the clubhouse playlist. Sometimes the band members stopped by, unkempt appearance and all.
“I’m looking at them like, ‘Dude, who are you? You look like an axe murderer,'” Griffey joked. “‘I’m the lead singer.’ I’m like, ‘OK.'”
The diversity is something Griffey appreciated.
“Every day playing with these guys, it was an honor. People look at it and they talk about, ‘It was an honor to play with you.’ No, it was an honor to play with Jay, Edgar [Martinez], Randy because we were all so different but we had one common goal, and that was to be the best baseball player and the best team that we could be,” he said.