Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.

Here is the story of the saga that brought Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. together in Seattle in 1990. First this, from the Seattle Times of August 19, 1990:

Although he had an inkling he might not last much longer with the Reds, Griffey Sr. didn’t know for sure himself until he arrived at Riverfront Stadium yesterday and was called into Manager Lou Piniella’s office.

“He was told to retire, or they would move him some other way,” said a Cincinnati source. “He was a victim of the old numbers’ crunch.”

One of the numbers is the player roster. Pitcher Tom Browning recently sprained an ankle and is unavailable to pitch for a while, but not long enough to go on the DL. So the Reds had to keep some young pitchers to cover the starts.

The other number, or numbers, were Griffey’s stats. He was hitting .206 with one home run and eight runs batted in 63 at-bats. He was hitless in his last 19 pinch-hitting appearances.

Mariner General Manager Woody Woodward did not rule out the possibility. “Ken Griffey Sr. is on the voluntary retired list and still the Reds’ property,” he said. “If he chooses to come back and play, he has to settle with that ball club. We will watch the situation closely in the next week.”

Meanwhile, Griffey Jr. was somber after both the Mariners’ one-sided loss to the Yankees and after speaking with his mother.

“I can’t say anything regarding any situations until I talk to my dad,” he said. “We have talked about playing together once or twice. Whether we do or not, at least now he’ll have a chance to see me play more.”

A couple weeks later the Seattle Times updated the story:

Griffey, 40, retired from the Cincinnati Reds Aug. 18, but league rules prohibited another team from picking him up for 60 days, which is beyond season’s end. His status changed last Friday when the Reds decided to release him. That move opened the door for the Mariners to pick up the elder Griffey when the 72-hour waiver period ended.

“My feelings are stronger than ever,” Griffey said about playing with his son when contacted before boarding a flight from Cincinnati to Seattle last night. “I did not even think of it before. I figured I’d be with the Reds and end up the season with them. I guess they had other plans.”

The Reds actually accommodated everyone but themselves in this matter. With his release, Griffey will get paid through the rest of the season, about $85,000. The Reds are responsible for it. Had the Mariners claimed him, they would have been responsible. However, the Mariners waited until he cleared waivers and now only need to play him the prorated minimum, about $15,000, through September.

A father-son game is scheduled before tonight’s Mariner game against Detroit at the Kingdome, so the Griffeys could play together in that one if not the AL contest.

Mariner General Manager Woody Woodward, asked about the addition of Ken Sr. last night, said: “What he means to us is, one, obviously the interest for the fans of having the rare opportunity to see a father and a son in the same lineup; and, two, he has been on winning ballclubs in the past, he has a great personality and he brings his experience of winning here.”

Senior has concerns that his presence could be a distraction to his son, who is hitting .306 and ranks eighth in American League batting.

“But he wants me there,” said the elder Griffey. “I got this strong feeling from talking to him that he wants me there more than anything.”

Woodward said Griffey’s addition would be “more than just a marketing coup,” but it’s uncertain how Manager Jim Lefebvre will use Griffey, who last played in left field May 4.

“I feel I still have a little left,” Griffey said. “I just hope I can help them. They’re better than a .500 club. I’ll know more of what I can provide when I get there.”

Griffey’s wife, Birdie, will fly to Seattle tomorrow. All will stay at Griffey Jr.’s newly built home.

“Junior and I have always been so competitive,” the father said. “He’s always wanted to outdo me. I hope he doesn’t try to press so hard. I hope it’s a positive for everyone.”

Then, in the first game the Griffeys played together, on August 31 vs. the Royals, the Times reported:

Friday, the first night they played together, Junior heard that a $10,000 bounty had been offered to the first photographer to snap a picture of the two together. Junior was concerned; shouldn’t he and his dad control this? “Don’t shoot us together,” he told photographers in the pen next to the dugout. He wouldn’t sit close to his dad, either. Just protecting his rights. His father was amused. Don’t worry, kid. Just enjoy it.

Beyond the back-to-back singles Friday night, Junior admitted his biggest thrill was watching his father throw out speedy Bo Jackson at second base in the sixth inning. “I told him, ‘it runs in the family,’ ” Junior said.

Senior’s throw from left field was a one-hopper to second baseman Harold Reynolds. Jackson was out by 4 feet. He propped himself up on one elbow for several moments, before returning to the dugout.

“I was shocked,” Jackson said. “The scouting report said he didn’t have an arm.”

Senior reflected twice, during Wednesday’s news conference and after Friday’s game, that the man most responsible for his opportunity is Pete Rose, former Reds manager.

“It was Pete Rose who gave me this opportunity,” he said. Rose gave Senior a chance to play again when Griffey was released by Atlanta in July 1988.

Rose is now serving time for income-tax evasion. Senior wrote him a note before coming to Seattle. “I know he would have given his right arm to do the same thing with little Pete.”

Then, of course, the Griffeys hit back-to-back homers in Angels Stadium on September 14, 1990:

The home run was the 40-year-old Griffey’s third in his 32nd Mariner at-bat and the 151st of his 18-year career. The two-run shot came on an 0-2 pitch from Angel starter Kirk McCaskill. The ball cleared the center-field wall by more than 20 feet, 402 feet away.

His son followed with a 388-foot left-field blast, his 20th this season and 36th overall. He was given the green light on a 3-0 pitch.

“That’s history,” Mariner Manger Jim Lefebvre said. “You’ll never see that again. I mean I hope we will see it again. What an exciting moment. The job that man has done since he came here (from Cincinnati). It’s like they should be written up for a Hollywood movie.”

“I kept looking at (third-base coach Bill) Plummer for a sign, just to make sure the `take’ wasn’t on,” Junior said. “It’s something I didn’t think we’d ever do.”

After Senior’s home run he was greeted at the plate by his purposeful son. “I felt for him then,” Senior said. ” I knew he would be thinking home run. I could see it in his eyes when I crossed the plate.

“He tried to do it after I hit the other two against Oakland and in Boston. I knew he would be trying awfully hard. So I just sat quietly and hoped he relaxed and got a pitch he could hit. Then boom.”

“Now that’s something we have talked about,” Junior said. “We did it once before, in spring training. He did his off (Boston’s Roger) Clemens, and I don’t remember who I hit mine off of.”

The Griffeys had their final game of 1990 together on September 30, which also was the final game at 80-year-old Comiskey Park. Senior batted .377 with three home runs and 17 runs batted in his 21 games, then hit .282 in his final 30 games, in 1991. When he retired, he was about six months older than Junior would be when he retired.

Published in: on September 6, 2009 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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