The year 1969 may best be remembered for the first moon landing, the Vietnam war and Woodstock, but another event from late autumn of that year is having a great impact on the world of sports today. Of course, reference is being made to the birth of Ken Griffey, Jr. Now at age 29, he's already regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, and his legion of fans know that this is one player who's headed nowhere but up.
His accomplishments can be listed is one word: Wow! The outstanding statistics and achievements could run on for pages, but here's a brief look at the highest of the highlights.
Griffey broke into the majors in 1989, showing power, speed, and awesome fielding skills. His batting average was a mediocre 264 as a rookie, and only 16 baseballs left the yard, but his potential was so obvious that experts were labeling him as a soon-to-be superstar. They weren't wrong.
Recognition of his fielding skills came in his sophomore year as he won his first Gold Glove. He also raised his seasonal average to .300, where it has consistently remained ever since. The power increase came in 1993, as he cracked 45 home runs with a slugging percentage of .617. He was just getting warmed up.
In 1996 the home run total rose to a personal best (at the time) of 49, and Griffey followed that with back-to-back years of 56 home runs and over 145 RBI. In 1997 he was the unanimous choice for the Most Valuable Player award, and this year he was elected to the All-Star team for the tenth time while being the leading vote-receiver for the seventh time.
In April of 1998 he hit his 300th home run, making him the second youngest player in history to reach that milestone. He holds the club record for grand slam homers with ten, and already has over 1,000 career RBI. He is consistently among the American League leaders in RBI, runs, total bases, slugging percentage, extra-base hits, intentional walks, and, of course, homers.
Griffey was the All-Star game MVP in 1992, won the All-Star home run hitting contest in 1998, and has been home run champ of the American League three times. He also led the league in RBI in 1992.
When the Seattle Mariners drafted Griffey in the first round in 1987, they made one of the greatest selections of all time. They knew they had chosen a gem of a player, but who could have foreseen such numbers as these? Griffey already holds five different major league home run records. Those records are somewhat obscure, such as most home runs through the end of April and most three-run homers in a season, but no one else has been able to do those things in the history of the game.
Oh, by the way, his career batting average in All-Star games is (believe it or not) an astounding .444.
Ken Griffey, Jr. Superstar, and then some!