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 Griffey Timeline
At the ripe old age of 29, Ken Griffey Jr. has accomplished more in baseball than most players hope to do in a career. CNN/SI revisits the significant stops along Junior's road to greatness.
November 21, 1969
George Kenneth Griffey Jr. is born in Donora, Pa. He is the first child of Alberta and Ken Griffey Sr. The senior Griffey will play right field for Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of the 1970s.
When you grow up hanging around major league clubhouses and playing father-son games against the Big Red Machine, expectations can run high. After an entire season of Little League, 11-year old Ken Griffey, Jr. makes his first out. "I cried so hard they had to take me out of the game," Griffey recalled.
Ken Griffey Jr.
After a game at Yankee Stadium, Junior and his younger brother Craig are horsing around with other Yankees' offspring. An irate Billy Martin, then manager of the Bombers, tells a coach to have Ken Sr. remove his children from the clubhouse. Years later Griffey still finds the Big Apple hard to swallow. "I hold a grudge. Any time I get a chance to hurt them, I try a little harder." In 1993, Yanks skipper Buck Showalter criticizes Junior, saying his backwards cap and untucked shirttails are signs of disrespect for the game.
At Moeller High in Cincinnati, Griffey emerges as the next great baseball talent. Junior sets a school mark (since broken) of 11 homers in a season, and winds up with a then-record 20 for his career. "He has more natural power than any high school kid I've ever seen," says Moeller coach Mike Cameron.
The Seattle Mariners make Griffey the No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft and learn he's a quick sell: 20 minutes after the announcement, Griffey signs with the club for a $160,000 bonus.
Ken Griffey Jr.
The Kid works quickly. Fifteen days after he is drafted, Griffey hits his first minor league home run with the Class A Bellingham (Wash.) Mariners. He whacks three homers, drives in eight runs and steals four bases en route to being named Northwest League Player of the Week. "When he does take over in center," says Seattle manager Jim Lefebvre, "it will be for the next 20 years."
What price stardom? Racial slurs hurled at him by Bellingham teenagers and disagreements with his father prompt 18-year old Griffey to swallow over 200 aspirin in a suicide attempt. His stomach is pumped and he is placed in intensive care. "It seemed like everyone was yelling at me in baseball, then I came home and everyone was yelling at me there," Griffey told The Seattle Times when he revealed the story in 1992. "I got depressed. I got angry. I didn't want to live."
Ken Griffey Jr.
March 29,1989
So much for best-laid plans. Despite the Mariners' desire to slowly move him up to the majors, Griffey sets team spring training records for hits (32), total bases (49) and RBIs (20), while hitting in 15 consecutive games and batting .360. Lefebvre finds himself telling a 19-year-old he's the Mariners' starting centerfielder.
April 3, 1989
Ken Griffey Sr., age 39, signs a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds, just as Griffey Jr. secures a spot in Seattle's outfield. It is the first time a father-son duo has played simultaneously in the bigs. Junior doubles off Oakland's Dave Stewart in his first major league at-bat. Senior admits he cried after seeing the replay.
Ken Griffey Jr.
May 17,
The Ken Griffey Jr. Milk Chocolate Bar debuts on shelves in the Pacific Northwest. More than one million bars are sold, and dentists everywhere argue that leaping, over-the-wall catches are a leading cause of cavities.
July 25,
In the midst of a stellar rookie campaign (.287, 13 homers, 45 RBIs), Griffey slips—literally—in the Rookie of the Year race. He breaks the pinky finger of his right hand exiting a hotel shower, and hits only .214 after returning from the DL on August 20. He ends up finishing third in the rookie balloting behind runaway winner Gregg Olson of Baltimore and Kansas City's Tom Gordon.
Ken Griffey Jr.
August 30,
Cincinnati asks Ken Sr. to retire. He instead seeks a release, gets it, and latches on with Seattle. Two nights later, history is made again when Ken Sr. and Ken Jr., father and son, bat in the same lineup. His first time up, Senior singles. Junior comes up next and singles, too. The following month Junior and Senior hit back-to-back homers off California's Kirk McCaskill. Ken Sr. doesn't hang 'em up until November 1991.
January 7, 1991
Both Griffeys appear in an episode of Harry and the Hendersons. Their shtick is teaching Harry—Bigfoot, if you will—the fundamentals of baseball. By the show's end, the audience cheers Harry's newfound ability to hit the cutoff man. Junior also appears in a February 1992 episode of The Simpsons, doing the voice of a ringer for the nuclear plant softball team, who is unable to play after suffering acute gigantism from drinking too much nerve tonic.
Ken Griffey Jr.
July 14,
Junior launches an All-Star Game home run at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium off Chicago's Greg Maddux. It marks the first time in history a father and a son have smacked All-Star round-trippers—Senior hit one off the Yankees' Tommy John on July 8, 1980. After becoming the first Mariner elected to start the All-Star Game, Junior takes home the game's MVP award.


Text by Brian Hamilton
Photos by (top to bottom) Peter Read Miller, Tony Tomsic, V.J. Lovero, William R. Smith, Lane Stewart, Bob Galbraith/AP


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