Mariners to retire Ken Griffey Jr.’s No. 24 at all levels

Jan 8, 2016, 8:01 PM | Updated: Jan 9, 2016, 12:37 pm
A full weekend honoring Ken Griffey Jr. will take place Aug. 5-7, including his number retirement. ...
A full weekend honoring Ken Griffey Jr. will take place Aug. 5-7, including his number retirement. (AP)
(AP)

After fulfilling the duties required of newly elected Hall of Fame members – with one of the last being ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange Friday morning – Ken Griffey Jr. hopped on a plane and headed to Seattle to take care of a few Mariners duties and catch his daughter’s basketball games against WSU and UW.

He was given a red carpet welcome at Safeco Field by Mariners employees, which was a nice surprise. Another surprise was revealed to him Thursday night when he was told that the Mariners were retiring his number. He becomes the first Mariners player to have his number retired by the team.

“Ken Griffey Jr. was the first player selected in the 1987 Draft, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, the first player in the Hall of Fame history to amass over 99 percent of the vote and the first player to wear a Mariners cap on his Hall of Fame plaque,” team president Kevin Mather said at the press conference. “It seems only fitting that he be the first Mariners player to have his number retired.”

While no Mariners player has worn No. 24 since Griffey’s retirement, several minor leaguers, including Danny Hultzen and Brian Moran in 2015, have. They will have to find new numbers in 2016 as the retirement of the number will cover the entire organization. From the Dominican Academy to Triple-A Tacoma, no player will ever be assigned 24 again.

Griffey will be honored at Safeco Field with Ken Griffey Jr. Weekend which will take place August 5-7. Friday, Aug. 5 will be Ken Griffey Jr. Hall of Fame Bobblehead Night with the first 20,000 fans receiving a bobblehead. The number retirement ceremony will take place Aug. 6. That night the first 20,000 fans will receive a replica Hall of Fame plaque. Aug. 7 will be Ken Griffey Jr. Replica Jersey Night with again the first 20,000 receiving the giveaway.

In addition to the Hall of Fame weekend, Griffey will throw out the first pitch on Opening Night, April 8 against the A’s.

Griffey’s 24 will hang alongside Jackie Robinson’s 42 in the outfield, an honor that Junior more than appreciated. Griffey got his Jackie Robinson stories from those who knew him. Joe Black, who played in the Negro Leagues, and Chuck Harmon, the first African-American player to play for the Reds, were frequent dinner guests at the Griffey home.

“If he didn’t do what he did, maybe none of this would have been possible,” Griffey said of Robinson. “Now I’ve got great friends from Japan to Australia. Having my number next to him? I don’t think I did half of what he did. Baseball-wise you are going to look at numbers and things like that, but the way he went about life and off the field, nobody can compare to that. He is a trailblazer in more ways than one. That’s part of the reason why every year there is a Jackie Robinson shoe I design. It is a way of giving back to him.”

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