Ken Griffey Jr. Explains His Grudge Against Yankees, Cites Dugout Incident

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2020

Former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. waves to fans after being introduced before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Friday, April 14, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Ken Griffey Jr. is not a fan of the New York Yankees.

During the MLB Network's Junior documentary about the Hall of Fame outfielder, he recounted a story from when his father Ken Griffey Sr. played for the Yankees:

"I came up to visit my dad and it was just me and him. I got to the ballpark early and I'm sitting in the dugout and the security guard comes over and says, '[Then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner] doesn't want anyone in the dugout.' My dad was like, 'What? He's my son.' So he goes, 'Alright, hey go in my locker. But before you go, look at third base.' It's Graig Nettles' son taking ground balls at third base." 

"And at that time, my dad was 38 years old, he's like, 'I ain't fighting this no more. I got somebody a little younger. And a little bit better.' 

"There's certain things a dad drills into you as a kid that just sticks with you. And [to beat the Yankees] was one of them."  

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According to Steven Marcus of Newsday, the incident occurred in the 1983 season. Marcus also reported that it had actually been Yankees manager Billy Martin, and not Steinbrenner, who didn't want anyone in the dugout. 

It wouldn't be the only encounter between Martin and the Griffeys. Apparently, the Yankees manager also told them to quiet down in the locker room at one point. 

"[Martin] had someone approach me and tell me to tell my two kids to be quiet," Griffey Sr. said in 2014. "Junior was 11. And Junior happened to be standing outside the door, waiting to come into the locker room."

"He never forgot," Griffey Sr. added, noting that it played a part in his son rejecting the Yankees as a free agent during his career. "He had told them up front he was not coming."

The documentary also showed Griffey Jr. during his playing career signing autographs for fans at the ballpark and telling them he would retire before ever playing for the Yankees. 

Griffey Sr. spent parts of five seasons with the Yankees between 1982-86, hitting .285 with 49 homers and 251 RBI in 551 games. In his 19-year career he hit .296 with 152 homers, 859 RBI, 1,129 runs and 200 stolen bases.

His son would go on to have a Hall of Fame career and is seventh on the all-time home run list with 630 career home runs.