Ken Griffey Jr.'s 7 Greatest Seattle Mariners Home Runs
As a change of pace, during another season of growing pains, I've decided it might be fun to look back at a time and person who helped make the Mariners relevant to baseball fans across the country.
Like a lot of us, I like to get nostalgic on occasion and remember when the Mariners had not only hope, but also someone who delivered upon it from day one. While reading through Seattle Times writer Larry Stone's archives recently, I stumbled upon this article on Ken Griffey Jr.
When Junior came to Seattle in 1989, it signaled the first time in my life that the Mariners were more than the whipping boy of the AL West.
In short, Junior breathed life into a franchise that to many around the country didn't exist. Now almost a quarter century after being chosen No. 1 in the 1987 amateur draft by the M's, it's safe to say that without Junior the Seattle Mariners would probably no longer exist.
For fun, I figured why not take a few minutes to look back at the seven greatest home runs he hit in an M's uniform from the point of view from someone who may have lived in many different places during the duration of Junior's career, but who always kept close tabs.
No. 7: The First Home Run
I suppose we should start at the beginning...
First pitch, first game in Seattle at the Kingdome.
Eric King, White Sox will forever serve as an important foot-note in Seattle sports history as being Junior's first, but certainly not last victim.
It was a thing of beauty watching that natural swooping swing lift the ball to the left field seats and made a believer of a lot of people in Seattle and beyond. It came at a time when This Week In Baseball was the best source of highlights across the country in a household lacking cable TV for ESPN.
Perhaps more than anything it helped provide this nerdish pre-teen a sense of pride.
Suddenly the $10 bucks I spent on the brand new Upper Deck rookie card whom all of my friends mocked, not to mention my own grandmother, seemed a little less stupid.
No. 6: '92 All-Star Game
Remember when the All-Star Game mattered?
Twenty years ago, before Interleague play, it did.
For a kid living on the other side of the country, this was a rare chance to see everybody that mattered at one time in one place.
In San Diego against the NL's best, Griffey put together an MVP performance that included a homer against future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
No. 5: Welcome Back?
Now fast forward 15 years, to a time when Mariner fans actually cheered an opposing player going yard.
At the time, it was bittersweet watching Junior come to Safeco wearing a Cincinnati jersey. So much had happened since the time he had left.
And yet...how could you stay mad at him?
No. 4: No. 400 as a Mariner
I like to think the reception Junior received in 2007 played a big part in his return two years later.
By the time Griffey returned to the Mariners in 2009, many wondered whether he had anything left in the tank.
When the M's came home to Seattle to start the season, Griffey had already managed to show some of the magic that was still left in his bat, but what happened on April 15th was truly special.
On the day that MLB honors Jackie Robinson's historic first game in 1947, Griffey hit his 400th homer as a Mariner in front of an adoring crowd that proved it is indeed possible to go home again.
No. 3: '93 Home Run Derby
OK, so perhaps I'm jumping back in time and Junior wasn't in an M's uniform for this one either, but it still amazes me given the raw power involved.
During the 1993 Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Baltimore, Junior hit a shot that to this day has never been beat as he hit the B&O Warehouse in deep right field at Camden Yards.
Does anybody even remember who won the competition?
No. 2: Senior and Junior Go Back to Back
In a moment that still gives me goosebumps and I'm sure just about anyone with a soul, both Junior and Senior became the first father and son combination to hit homers back to back against Angels pitcher Kirk McCaskill.
For a lot of fans, I'd imagine this is No. 1 on their list, and while it's my sentimental favorite, it's not No. 1...
No. 1: Game 5, '95 ALDS
Bottom of the eighth with the M's trailing 4-2 to the Yankees in the deciding game of the ALDS at the Kingdome.
Griffey who had been blistering the ball thus far in the series came to the plate with no one on and already 0-3 on the day against Yankees ace David Cone who was only five outs away from clinching the series.
Once Griffey stepped into the batter's box, Cone called time to pace for a moment and see if he could break Junior's concentration.
It didn't work.
On his second pitch, Griffey launched a moonshot deep to right field that helped get the M's back on track, making the score 4-3 before eventually tying the game at four.
From there the rest is history as the M's went on to win in 11 innings after rallying from behind once again thanks largely to Griffey racing all the way from first to score the winning run on Edgar Martinez's epic double.
Without that homer, would I even be putting together this list? Not so sure...