Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt, Weighs in on Griffey

May 10, 2010, 4:31 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:55 pm

by Jessamyn McIntyre

Larry LaRue’s
commentary
on Ken Griffey Jr. has the ports media
stirring today, including us here at 710 ESPN Seattle. The
most we’re hearing about is that Griffey was napping in
the clubhouse. But, as Shannon Drayer states in her
blog
, this is nothing new.

38027What is
noteworthy in LaRue’s story, is that he sees the end of
Junior’s career on the horizon – the very close horizon
being the end of this month.

Is he right? Nobody can answer that question but
Griffey himself. But there are a few players,
past and present, who can provide some insight into this
situation.

One of those players is Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt,
who abruptly retired on May 29th, 1989 after a poor start
to that season. I called him today to talk about his own
situation and Griffey’s, and he was nice enough to answer
a few questions I had. Here is what he offered:

How did you know it was time to walk away from
the game, being that you were in-season?

“I assessed everything from my place in history, to my
role and contribution to the team at that time, to my
physical capabilities to play the game, and most
importantly to my personal family life and its importance
relative to my career. I had no interest in playing on a
last place, rebuilding team, just to add to my career
statistics. I’m sure I had another 50-100 home runs in me
but I no interest in producing them as a role player or
DH. I prayed for on field signs to help with my decision
and they came immediately.”

schmidtWho makes that decision, the
player or the organization?

“The player, but in some cases an organization can make
it clear to the player that your not part of the current
plan.”

Do you think it’s possible for an
organization to push a player toward retirement?

“Sure, but in this case they do so gracefully.”

Ken Griffey Jr. fell asleep during a game and
missed a pinch-hitting opportunity, did you ever have
an experience like that or witness one?

“Didn’t know that, wow, must have been a boring
game…that should be a red flag. Most of us old folks
like to go to sleep around 9:30 PM.”

What was your biggest motivating factor in
retiring when you did?

“My family, wife and 2 little children, whose daddy had
only seen 1/2 of their lives. It was time to start being a
dad and not a baseball player.”

When looking back upon the decision, do you
think you made the right one?

“Absolutely, would have like 2 more home runs because
548 is hard to write on balls. Seriously, I went out on
top, on my own terms, no long 38027term period of digression as a
player, no series of sub par years, no trades, no bench
playing…I was a cleanup hitter up to my last at bat.”

Do you think Ken Griffey Jr. should retire?

“I cannot answer that, I don’t know him personally.
Some guys just love the life. Some guys have to have a
public persona and aren’t satisfied in life unless they
are “out there”. I couldn’t wait to blend into a normal
lifestyle, no traveling, no room service cheeseburgers, no
sneaking into and out of stadiums to avoid crowds. If he
still enjoys it why not keep suiting up. I bet his
paycheck has some nice zeros! That will keep you in the
dugout as well.”

Interesting coming from someone who was in almost
exactly the same situation as Ken Griffey Jr. is now. For
the rest of us, it’s a ‘wait and see’ situation. For
Junior – it’s his decision and his decision alone as to
what he wants to do.

Your thoughts on Griffey and his future are welcome
below.

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