Growing up, a lot of kids wanted to be like Mike.
Not me, I wanted to be like Ken.
George Kenneth Griffey Jr. had it all.
He had the skill at the plate and in the field that only others could dream of having, giving him that superstar label rather early in his career.
Unlike most other superstars though, Griffey also had the personality and charisma that created a likeable clubhouse atmosphere.
He was the perfect guy to look up to, and that's why so many little kids did, including myself.
Robin Yount and Paul Molitor may have played in my backyard, but Junior was the guy that got me interested in baseball.
I'm now a capable switch hitter at the plate because I just wasn't Griffey if I couldn't look like him.
We all know about his career; 630 HR, MVP winner, 'The Slide', the back-to-back with his dad, the contagious smile and laughter, the 500th home run with his dad in the stands, all the highlight reel catches and one of the sweetest swings that baseball has ever seen.
He also won 10-straight Gold Glove Awards, to which you can create a 24-hour loop of all his great catches, and I would watch it for a week straight.
Griffey had his superstar status without the superstar ego that normally comes with it, making him that much more special to the game.
But perhaps the greatest thing he did throughout his career, was stay away from steroids and PEDs throughout the steroid-era of baseball.
He could have taken the road that so many other superstars took, who didn't need to (Bonds and A-Rod mainly). Both Barry and Alex had the talent and skill to be the next greatest thing, without needing the needles.
Junior could have turned into a muscle mass and smacked 900 HRs, but he stayed true to himself, and his father, and played his 22 years in the majors clean, with absolutely nobody questioning the integrity of his 630 HRs.
As a seven-year old kid from Wisconsin, I looked up to the 19-year old 'Kid' in the Pacific Northwest.
I followed his career to injury-plagued Cincinnati, even though he was with an NL Central enemy. I was amazed he made his way to the Windy City and glad that he was able to finish his long career where it started, in the Emerald City.
Once back in Seattle, it was hard to comprehend that the 20-year old superstar that I've adored from afar was now a 40-year old veteran, trying to hang on to his youth.
Some question his early-June exit and wonder why he didn't finish the year.
I think Griffey left at exactly the right time. He knew that he could no longer produce at the major league level with guys half his age. Junior left on his terms, nobody forced him to walk away.
For 22 years, I watched and adored the Kid, the game just won't be the same without him roaming the outfield.
Thanks for all the wonderful moments you gave us in the greatest game there is. See you in Cooperstown.
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