I moved to Seattle in 1994 when Ken Griffey Jr. was in the prime of his career; I often went to see him and the Mariners play at the KingDome. I watched in amazement at Griffey’s sweet swing, his reckless defense and the Mariner’s historic playoff run in 1995. Whenever I see him or highlights from his old days, it brings me back to my early years in Seattle.
I have always wanted to visit The Baseball Hall of Fame. So when Griffey got voted in this year, in his first year of eligibility and receiving the most votes ever for a player inducted to The Hall, it seemed like the perfect time to make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, NY.
We flew into NYC and drove through the back roads of upstate New York, through the beautiful Catskills, past picturesque old farming towns to our remote destination. We arrived on Main Street just in time for the parade of Hall of Fame Legends. The normally sleepy town was overflowing with rabid baseball fans watching a strange parade of baseball players in the back of pick-up trucks rolling down the street.
There were baseball fans from around the country and every team was represented. There was no animosity, Yankees and Red Sox fans side by side, chatting and watching the parade. It was a celebration of baseball; we were in Cooperstown and everyone was a winner.
The following morning we laid down a blanket on the field to watch the Induction Ceremony with 50,000 of our fellow fans. The sun was out in full force, it was over 90 degrees and humid. But that was of no concern; we were there!
As they played highlights of The Kid’s career on the big screen, I could remember them all. Goosebumps formed, it was as if I was back in Seattle in twenty years ago. Griffey started his speech and immediately choked up. As tears tears flowed down his face, sweat poured down mine. It was amazing to see the usually care-free Griffey so emotional.
I laid back in the grass and listened to him speak, the intense sun causing me to hallucinate. I drifted back to the days of listening to Dave Niehaus calling the game on the crackling radio in my 1984 Tercel; Playing pool and watching the Mariner’s game at the Comet Tavern. Wherever you were, whatever you were doing, everything came to a pause when Griffey came to bat. Nothing else mattered and he proved anything was possible.