? Ken Griffey Jr. clearly saw his 500th homer as a special occasion. Last week, shortly after hitting number 499, Griffey phoned Reds COO John Allen and requested that one of the team's longtime radio announcers, Marty Brennaman or Joe Nuxhall, not its first-year man, Steve Stewart, be behind the mike for the landmark dinger. "It's no disrespect against Steve, I just felt that when it's done, it should be [called by] someone who'd been there," Griffey said. So starting last Friday every time Griffey came to the plate, Stewart graciously stepped aside. ( Griffey ended up hitting number 500 during an inning in which Brennaman was scheduled to be in the booth.) Brennaman and Nuxhall, meanwhile, were left flattered—but a bit uncomfortable. Said Brennaman, "It's not my idea. I made the biggest call in history [ Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit] when it comes to milestones, and I don't need this."
? ESPN Hockey analyst Bill Clement played II seasons in the NHL, but this summer he'll be covering a slightly more obscure pastime in which he also excelled. Clement, a two-time Quebec high school badminton champion, will provide color commentary for NBC's Olympic shuttlecock coverage. NBC producers are high on badminton's chances of catching on with viewers because of the speed of play and the relative shortness of games. "It's a quicker and compact combination of tennis and volleyball," says Clement. "The athleticism is terrific." Clement will be one of 99 NBC announcers in Athens, including Bob Costas, Katie Couric and former Sixers owner Pat Croce, a third-degree karate black belt who will provide commentary for taekwando.