Calling it a career

Published 5:50 pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

The end of an era is upon us.

We met him as just a kid, and now, we see him leave as a man and shoe-in first ballot Hall of Famer.

And while there are countless memories that came from his 22 year career, today is a sad day for Major League Baseball and its fans.

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Ken Griffey Jr., one of the greatest baseball players to ever grace the diamond, has called it quits.

In a time filled with performance enhancing drugs, scandals and lairs, Junior remained one of the few bright spots in the game, even during injury plagued seasons.

And he had a swing, so beautiful, it could stop wars.

He was by far my favorite player growing up, no questions asked – I wanted to play just like him.

Somewhere in my parent’s house, there is a box filled with Griffey cards, everything from his 1989 Upper Deck Rookie Card to his 2000 Topps Limited Power Players card.

He was an MVP, an All-Star, a Gold Glover, a Silver Slugger and one of three active players to be selected to the All-Century team back in 2000.

He always wore his hat backwards, and always was seen to be smiling.

Talk about a class act.

He never argued bad calls, never got made at opposing players or managers – he was only there to help his team win.

Sadly, there was something else he was never able to do, play for a championship.

Despite “The Kids” absence from a World Series, his career was still stellar.

He ranks fifth on the all-time home runs list with 630, including tying a Major League record with hitting a home run in eight-straight games.

And maybe the most impressive thing about all those home runs was never once was his name linked to steroids.

He revolutionized the way center fielders play the game with this ability to track down balls in the field or on the wall.

And who could forget his slide to beat the Yankees in the 1995 AL Division Series?

Then there were his baseball video games, which are still better than the ones coming out today – I don’t care what anyone says.

It makes sense that Junior retired when he did.

Griffey announced his retirement 75 years to the day that another Hall of Famer called it a career in Babe Ruth.

While there will be many others after him, none will have the same kind of flare or spark that Junior had.

He introduced a whole generation to the game of baseball.

And while that generation will continue watching that great game, its not going to be same knowing No. 24 isn’t out on the field making unbelievable catches and hitting homers.

Greg Rossino is the sports editor for The Messenger, and he can be reached at or on Twitter at Messenger_greg.