The Northwest finally got to say ‘goodbye’ to Ken Griffey Jr.
Whatever animosity followed his departure after the 1999 season seemed relegated to the bin of history when the Seattle Mariners through a Welcome Back Junior Night at the favorite son of a franchise.
Touched, Griffey admitted "I didn’t realize how much I missed Seattle," and a warm reception turned hot.
Griffey began producing memories the day he stepped on the field in 1989, from a first-at-bat double in Oakland to a first-at-bat home run in the Kingdome that same season.
As talented as any player had any right to be, Griffey was always more than that. What made people love him wasn’t merely that ability, but the personality that accompanied it.
Junior was the Mariners Everyman. When he lost, his frustration showed. And when he was happy, well, everyone was happy.
Take the clutch double by Edgar Martinez in the ’95 American League Division Series, and the speed with which Griffey went from first base to the plate to score the winning run. Wonderful.
Then remember for a moment the smile that beamed from the bottom of the dogpile of humanity at home plate afterward – that was the joy of baseball that Griffey rekindled in folks who’d never seen a winner in Seattle.
Griffey was humble in saying his teammates and fans had made him who he was today. Seattle fans were all too happy to remember that he’d made the future of this franchise what is has become.