Tomorrow is the birthday of Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. Like Mickey Mantle from my youth, Griffey turned me back to baseball as an adult. It came long after I had abandoned the game 20 years earlier.
It began once again with the excitement of my ten-year old daughter Jaime in the summer of 1989. We were at a neighborhood 7-11 when she talked me into buying a few packs of Upper Deck baseball cards. I hadn’t bought a baseball card in years! The last were used to motorize the sound of my bicycle. They were pretty effective, but the clothes pins couldn’t keeping them from flying off! Among those new cards we found “The Kid”s highly sought after rookie card. Jaime couldn’t believe it! It was the most valuable card in the 800-card set!
I’d never heard of him, but Jaime had! Not even yet a major league player, Upper Deck somehow knew, he soon would be. Ken Griffey, Jr. was going places. These baseball cards were like nothing I’d seen before, they were a work of art, pristine, glossy… darn near perfect! His card was beautiful. He was just an 18-year old kid and I was hooked!
I admit it. I’m a fair-weather fan. If my team’s winning I’m behind ’em. Might even spend a few dollars going to their games. But if they’re losing, you won’t see me at the ballpark and I won’t waste any time watching on T-V either I finally learned my lesson ten years ago after serving time as a Seattle Mariners fan. Yep I had “Mariner fever!” I knew the stats, I knew the score.
It all began in the old days of the Kingdome with the coming of Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989. It ended 12 seasons later at Safeco Field at the end of the 2001 season. It will be ten years ago next month and I’ve never looked back.
Tom Hanks in the 1992 movie A League of Their Own gave us the classic line, There’s no crying in baseball! But frankly I shed a few tears in those years. Always happy tears for those exciting days while watching my team at it’s best. Best of all I got to enjoy those games with my kids. It wouldn’t have been the same without them along for the ride. Probably some of the happiest and funnest times we spent together were at those games or in front of the television set at home watching as rabid Mariner fans. Those are great memories but, that was a long time ago. Continue reading