Twenty-two seasons, 2,781 hits, 630 homers, 1,836 RBIs and one nap at an inopportune time: Ken Griffey’s career is officially in the books. The 40-year-old called it quits in a statement released yesterday, meaning the folks at Cooperstown can start chipping away on the plaque for his Hall of Fame induction in five years.
Griffey — arguably the greatest untainted player of this generation — got his start with Seattle at age 19 in 1989, hit .300 the next season, had his first 40 homer year in 1993 and finished his initial Mariner career with four of the greatest offensive seasons in baseball history from 1996-1999: In those four seasons alone, he hit 209 home runs and drove home 567 runs (averages of 52 and 142). After signing with Cincinnati and hitting 40 bombs his first year, Griffey’s body started to fall apart, causing him to miss 418 games from 2001-2006 due to a smorgasbord of injuries. He was traded to the White Sox at the deadline in 2008 before returning to Seattle as a free agent in 2009.
Griffey hit just .214 last year, but re-upped for another year with the Mariners, who experts such as myself were picking to make a playoff run this season. Homerless and hitting .198 for a 21-31 team, The Kid decided yesterday he’d had enough.
For as much as the game has embraced Griffey all these years, it was a bit disappointing to see him go out on this note, through a statement, on a bad team and with controversy still buzzing about his alleged doze-off a few weeks ago when manager Don Wakamatsu was looking for him to pinch hit. Still, it’s not often a player gets to go out on his own terms, and Griffey got that. I don’t think Seattle fans are about to have any beef with his legacy.