With some surprise, Griffey decided to hang them up for good yesterday afternoon. I do not agree with the timing of this move, but apparently it does seem to be for the best. Was it planned to call is quits 23 years to the day he was drafted into the Mariner organization? It seems that way, but I am not sure we will ever know the answer.
He will be a first ballot hall of famer. Apparently, a journey to Cooperstown in five years might be in order for my family. Yesterday was a different feeling for me. It seemed that when Griffey retired, so did my childhood. He was the last of my 3 idols to still be playing the game he loved. Largent ended his hall of fame career in an injury plagued 1989 season. Once the X-man departed Seattle, my interest faded as his career ended with a 7 year journey to 4 different teams. But Griffey, he was always there. Even if he did play for the Reds and half a season with the White Sox. His charisma was part of it, but he was also so damn good in his first run in Seattle. Safeco will always be the house that Griffey built. For those of that don’t know the whole story, he (rather the 1995 team) is responsible for saving baseball in Seattle.
I think some people wonder why Seattle has such a love affair with him, and 1995 in particular. My brother was in Tampa Bay in the mid-90’s. Sporting good stores were selling shirts that said “Tampa Bay Mariners”. The Mariners were going nowhere fast. In fact, he brought one back to me. Then 1995 hit. They were 13 games out of first in early August. They fought for two solid months to have a playoff game against Anaheim (then called the California Angels). This was the first year of the wild card and the Mariners were lucky enough to face a 5 game set against the Yankees. It was a format of 2-3, not sure why the Mariners got 3 straight at home, but who really cares. After falling 0-2, the M’s came back to defeat the evil empire on what is by far the greatest play in Seattle sports history.
Griffey’s legacy is more than just the 1995 season. He was the first Mariner MVP in 1997, as well leading the AL in home runs for 4 seasons. And how can we forget his countless amazing plays in centerfield. All in all, he was, and continues to be, the face of this franchise. He is the greatest player to ever wear a Mariner uniform.
As Griffey flies off into the Floridian sunset, it is time for this region to put the 1995 season behind us. We can always look back on what was the best season ever with fond memories, but it’s time to make some new ones. We have since tried in 1997 and most notably in 2001. However, the magic that was the 1995 season can only be replaced with a World Series crown.
In honor of his retirement, I am wearing my Cooperstown Collection Griffey jersey with my hat on backwards. Cheers to a great career.