In someways Ken Griffey’s son was the best thing that ever happened to Ken Griffey’s legacy.
In otherwise, the greatness of Ken Griffey’s son undermined the fine career the father had.
But one thing is for sure. Ken Griffey’s son pushed the father towards being a baseball player.
George Kenneth Griffey was born in Donora Pennsylvania. His father left the family when he was young. Griffey was a football star and track star at his high school. Baseball was almost an afterthought in his sports life as he played basketball as well.
As he approached his high school graduation, he had choices to make about potential college scholarships and which sport he would choose. Then another factor popped up. His girlfriend was pregnant and Griffey needed to marry her and find a job.
It just so happened that the Cincinnati Reds drafted him out of high school and the decision was made for him.
Little did anyone know that the bun in his new bride’s oven would not only carry his father name but also eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame!
Griffey bounced around minor league cities like Sioux Falls, Tampa and even in Quebec while his son was a baby.
By 1973, he was promoted to the big league squad at age 23. He was inserted into the starting lineup of the defending NL Champs. In his first game, he was in the lineup with Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Dan Driessen and Cesar Geronimo. He singled and doubled in his first game and soon became part of “The Big Red Machine.”
In 1975, he was a .305 hitter with 16 stolen bases and was a key member of the squad that returned to post season. In Game 1 of the 1975 NLCS, he drove in 3 runs. In Game 2 of the World Series, he doubled in the go ahead run with 2 outs in the top of the 9th to give the Reds the lead for good.
In Game 7 of the World Series, he scored both the tying run in the 7th and the go ahead run in the 9th as the Reds went on to win of the great World Series in baseball history.
The next year was the best in Griffey’s career. He was in a neck and neck race with Bill Madlock for the batting title which he lost on the final day of the season. He finished 8th in the MVP vote and was chosen to the first of his 3 All Star selections. He also stole a career high 34 bases and again played in the post season.
In Game 3 of the 1976 NLCS, Griffey smacked the infield single that scored Dave Concepcion and clinched the pennant for the Reds. They would go on to win the series again.
As his son was growing up and developing into a star, Griffey Senior was a solid hitter with the Reds, Yankees and by the time this card was printed was playing in Atlanta.
While on the Braves, Griffey’s namesake was drafted by the Mariners number one over all. Midway through 1988, he was cut by Atlanta and returned to the Reds where he played for his former teammate and then manager Pete Rose.
In 1989, both father and son were playing in the majors. In 1990, the Reds were en route to winning their first World Series title since the days of the Big Red Machine. But late in the year, the Reds dumped their lone hold over from their glory years. Griffey Senior was released, somewhat unceremoniously.
But the frustrating story turned into one of the great heart warming stories in the history of baseball. The Mariners signed Griffey Senior and father and son were united in the majors.
On September 14, 1990, Griffey Senior and Griffey Junior hit back to back homers. No story of a father and son playing baseball together has been so high profile.
As a part time player in 1991, Griffey Senior held his own again before hanging up his spikes for good as Griffey Junior went on to his Hall of Fame dominance.
Griffey coached and managed in the Reds organization and has been named to the Cincinnati Hall of Fame.
He will always be remembered as Griffey Junior’s dad and his own fine career has been somewhat forgotten. But the back to back homers in 1990 put him in baseball lore more than many fine players from his era.
His grandson, Trey Griffey, is now playing in the NFL. Could Trey be heading to Canton?