On June 20, 2004, Ken Griffey, Jr. became the 20th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 500 career home-runs. Fans in Cincinnati and around the league were jubilant for the slugger's greatest offensive achievement at the time.
Now, in the 2008 season, Griffey will become the sixth player in major league history to hit 600 career homeruns. Only this time, there is no hype or special attention given to such a rare feat by baseball fans across the country.
That is because in the Bonds-Palmeiro-Sosa-etc., era of steroids, the home-run achievement has become nothing, but a ho-hum event.
Unfortunately, for the game and for Griffey, the last five years have been marred by steroids investigations from Congress, the Mitchell Report, Jose Canseco's tell-all books, and confessions made by great sluggers such as Rafael Palmeiro.
Even Mark McGwire pleaded the fifth, leaving many to believe he had in fact juiced up too.
Yet absent from all the pages of the Mitchell Report, Canseco's books, and the Congressional hearing reports, is the name Ken Griffey, Jr.
Arguably one of the game's greatest players of all-time, Griffey has done it all naturally.
Once donned "The Kid" and the future successor to Hank Aaron's 755 homerun record, injuries plagued Junior's tenure at Cincinnati. In fact, they plagued it so much, he may not obtain 700 homeruns before his career is over.
But the 13 time All-Star and 10 time Gold Glove winner, who even had a video game named after him, hasn't mentioned much about his future achievement. There are no press conferences or statements, just another day at the ballpark.
It's qualities like these that make Griffey not just a good player, but a great player.
Over the years he has shown much humility, and his respect for the game is unparalleled by many in the league.
True, when Alex Rodriguez nears 600, there is bound to be a lot of show and attention given. The former Griffey teammate will undoubtedly be showered by cheers from the Bronx faithful and given a nice exclusive half hour slot in a full hour of Baseball Tonight.
That of course will be in a few years, when the game should be getting over its currently steroid hang-over.
For now the damage from such an atrocious era continues.
Griffey's 600 will come and go.
Fans will mark the event, but unfortunately, the celebration won't be as widespread as it truly should be.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!