Lost in the outcry over a blown call costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game was the news that Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement as a major league baseball player. People can and will argue about his place in the all time rankings as it is a very subjective matter. I consider him easily one of the top 25 players all time. However, early in his career he seemed destined to be in the argument for second or third best player of all time. Then he was traded to his hometown Cincinnati Reds. In a way he had two careers. One as an all time great prior to that trade. And a completely different career after the trade where he hardly ever justified his paychecks.
From his debut in April 1989 until the end of the 1999 season Griffey's numbers were phenomenal. He was second in homers during that period with 398 (McGwire 438), first in RBI with 1,152, and third in runs scored with 1,063. If, like Kirby Puckett, he had suffered a career ending injury at that point he would have been elected to the Hall of Fame. However, instead of a career ending injury, Griffey suffered several season interrupting injuries and never reached the career numbers we expected.
From his trade to the Red until yesterday, Griffey in 11 seasons managed one great year a couple very good years and a bunch of forgettable years marred by injury. Over that period he was 33rd in homers with 232, 55th in RBI with 684 and only managed a .262 batting average. Sadly, the lasting memory for younger fans will be the second half of his career. Personally, I prefer my memories of him to be from when he played a great centerfield and was one of the most feared hitters in the league.
Of local interest, Griffey and Barry Larkin both attended Moeller High School here in Cincinnati and both should be in the Hall of Fame within a few years of each other. I doubt many high schools can make that claim. Another Moeller alumni, Alex Wimmers of The Ohio State University is expected to go very high in next weeks amateur baseball draft.
Lastly, it is interesting to point out that two of the greatest players ever - Stan Musial
and Ken Griffey Jr. were both born on 21 November in the same small town - Donora, Pennsylvania (49 years a part).
H/T to Baseball-Reference.com
and Baseball Musings
for statistics used in this post.
Labels: Alex Wimmers, Armando Galarraga, Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds, Ken Griffey Jr., Moeller High School, Ohio State, Stan Musial