The news of Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement from baseball brought back a lot of youthful memories for me. He was always my favorite baseball player, and I bet I share that thought with countless others. There's no rhyme or reason to this post...just wanted to get everything in one place.
That swing. Even though I'm right-handed, I'd mimic his swing in all my baseball leagues. Perhaps that's why I couldn't hit, I was too busy trying to be Junior rather than focusing on the ball. When I didn't have games, me and my neighbor's grandson, also named Nick, would hit the back alley behind the houses and practice his swing with those yellow wiffle-ball banana bats.
I've never had a huge number of non-Pittsburgh sports hats in my life. I have a Mets one now, since I live in Queens, and just wanted one. I remember wearing a Chargers one for a bit. I think I had Saints and Falcons Starter hats that I never wore. But my favorite was a Mariners hat from right after they switched to the aqua/teal colors. It was the straight aqua/teal hat, navy brim and S and compass logo. One of my favorite hats of all time, thanks to Junior. I'm seriously considering getting the same one again if I can find it anywhere.
More on the hats...before the aqua/teal shift, the Mariners had navy blue hats with a simple yellow S. I played baseball for my hometown, Sutersville, and our hats for minor and little leagues were orange and green. But just before the change to those colors, they were...navy blue with a yellow S. Made pretending to be Griffey that much easier.
And finally, living south of Pittsburgh, you get attached to famous people from that area. I always considered Griffey a local, since he was born in Donora, PA. A great party fact was telling people that both Junior Griffey and Stan Musial were born in Donora, ON THE SAME DAY. Check wikipedia if you don't believe me...I'm sure they'll back me up on that one.
So whatever, this was an incredibly disjointed post, but I couldn't let Griffey's retirement pass without a mention. You rarely see a 40 year old guy who played professional baseball in parts of 4 different decades. He inspired an entire generation to be baseball fans, and his accomplishments nearly dominated the 90s.
Happy retirement Junior, from one of your biggest fans. Now retire to Donora.