The Legend Retires: Ken Griffey Jr. and His Forgotten Departure from Baseball

John MontegomeryContributor IJanuary 30, 2011

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 14:  Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners watches his team against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on May 14, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Ask yourself what the biggest baseball story was last year.

Some will say the multitude of no-hitters and perfect games.  Others will remember Doc Halladay's playoff no-hitter. Still, others will, of course, think about that scrappy Giants team and their surprising World Series victory.

These are not the biggest stories—not to me.

No, instead, by far, the biggest story of the year came on June 3.

This was the day that Ken Griffey Jr. retired from professional baseball.  Twenty-two years of service ended on a fairly somber day with no major send-off or departure.  He merely decided it was time to call it a career, sent his notice and was off.

Months have passed, and the athlete I spent my life admiring is now just a thing of the past.  No longer do I see any articles or headlines about his achievements.

The day he retired, a friend called me and said, "Griffey retired? I didn't even know he was still playing."

Griffey will undoubtedly go down as one of the greats of all time, but his departure feels forgotten.  I haven't seen any stories or headlines about his amazing career since that day in June.  It seems that he's been forgotten in time—the younger generation likely doesn't understand the impact he had during the '90s.

Here is a reminder.

He was a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, won seven Silver Sluggers, had three Home Run Derby wins, was named 1997 AL MVP, hit 630 career home runs and had 2,781 hits.

Griffey was the gold standard in center field.  He was a superstar in Seattle and across the country for his feats both on and off the field.

He remains one of the greatest to ever play, but his departure from baseball did not receive nearly as much attention as it should have.

There were a number of sporting events that stood out last year. For me, however, I will remember 2010 as the year my favorite player left the game, and how quietly he left the scene.