It’s the end of an era — one that has covered most of my life in the city. For a long time, Griffey was the reason to go to the game. Slowly the team added pieces and became a contender but Junior was still the diamond on the ring, the straw that stirred the drink, the one key man that saved baseball in Seattle. His skills were unbelievable, his smile and laugh contagious, his leadership undeniable.
There is only one other time I cried with joy for my team. During the 1995 American League Division Series against the hated New York Yankees, Edgar Martinez looped a single down the left field line against Jack McDowell. Junior rounded third, running faster than seemed humanly possible. To this day I can remember exactly what I was doing, at work pulling computer tapes, while I listened to the game. I can remember the tears streaming down my face as I jumped up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs. The same tears erupted again when I watched the replays as soon as I got home. Seeing Junior slide across the plate, a young and still unspoiled Alex Rodriguez jumping into his arms, the rest of the team piling onto him as he rolled onto his stomach and smiled that unforgettably childlike impish grin, those tears are still with me every time I see that. They are with me right now as I think about it.
That’s the memory I’m taking with me from all the highlights of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career. Thanks Junior, for making this miserable sports town a little less miserable with your shining light.