Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#179 Ken Griffey, Jr.

About the Front: There probably aren't too many guys that I could identify in their catching equipment, but that's got to be Lance Parrish in Angels gear to the left of Ken Griffey, Jr. Strangely enough, Parrish doesn't have his own card in this set despite appearing in 93 games in 1992, the last 69 of them with Griffey's Mariners.

About the Back: You may have heard that not only were Ken Griffeys Senior and Junior born in Donora, PA, but so was Hall of Famer Stan Musial. Junior and Stan the Man also share a birthday!

Triple Play:

1. It's nearly impossible to overstate Ken's greatness during his prime. He won ten straight Gold Gloves in center field. From 1993 through 2000, he batted .294/.387/.606 (152 OPS+) with 351 home runs and 926 RBI. If it weren't for the 1994-95 player's strike and an injury-shortened 1995 season, those numbers would be even more eye-popping.

2. Griffey's body seemed to give out after the trade that sent him to Cincinnati in 2000. From 2001-2006, he averaged just 92 games per season. Despite this injury-fueled decline in his thirties, the former phenom retired in 2010 with 630 home runs (sixth-most in MLB history) and 1,836 RBI (still ranked 15th all-time).

3. In January of 1988, Ken attempted suicide at age 18, mere months after the Mariners made him the first overall pick in the amateur draft. He swallowed 227 aspirin pills, later citing depression and anger stemming from a strained relationship with his father and the pressures of his budding baseball career.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Obviously I loved Ken Griffey, Jr. My outfielder's glove in Little League had Junior's signature stamped in the pocket in gold. I also played the hell out of the Super Nintendo game to which he lent his likeness.

Bill James Said: "Before 1993 no player since 1970 had hit 35 doubles and 45 homers in the same season. Both Bonds and Griffey did it last year."

On This Date in 1993: March 19. If you're looking to see a movie, new releases are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 and Point of No Return.

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