By Kyle Nagel
Friday, August 01, 2008
Ken Griffey Jr. spent more than eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Some of the highs and lows of his time with the Reds:
Feb. 10, 2000
The Reds acquire Ken Griffey Jr. from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for pitcher Brett Tomko, outfielder Mike Cameron, pitcher Jake Meyer and infielder Antonio Perez. In a steamy Crosley Room on the executive level of Cinergy Field, Griffey pulls on a Reds hat and says, "Well, I'm finally home." The deal is nine years for $112.5 million with a club option for a 10th year. Griffey pulls on a Reds jersey and says, "The last time I put on this uniform I was 8." Griffey Sr., in earshot, shoots back, "And you beat us, 12-0, in the Father-Sons game."
Jim Bowden opens the press conference by saying, "February 10, 2000. February 10, 2000. This day will go down in Reds history and will go down in major-league history as the day one of the biggest trades in our sport took place, when the Michael Jordan of baseball came home to Cincinnati. He is the player of the decade, an All-Century player. A player who was born in Cincinnati has become one of the best players in our sport and has come home."
April 3, 2000
Griffey runs from the dugout to the Cinergy Field first-base line next to Barry Larkin as he is introduced to the Opening Day crowd of 55,596 (largest ever for a Reds home game) to a huge roar. "I couldn't believe how loud it was and how long it lasted," he says later. "I couldn't believe everyone stood up like that." Bowden, wearing a tuxedo, tells reporters, "This has put Cincinnati back on the baseball map, on top of the entire baseball world." Griffey goes 0-for-2 in the rain-shortened, six-inning tie with Milwaukee.
July 8, 2000
Griffey hits two home runs and drives in eight against Cleveland, becoming the first Reds player since Dave Parker in 1987 with at least eight RBIs in a game.
Aug. 23, 2000
After explaining to a reporter that he would be in the afternoon's lineup despite a sore left hamstring because he "played hurt all year, I've had a sore hamstring, I've refused to come out when I'm hurt," Griffey spots broadcaster Marty Brennaman, who had criticized Griffey during a broadcast for not hustling to stretch a single into a double. "You should check things out before you put things on the air," Griffey says. "Did you ask me if I was OK? Didn't you see me limping? Do you even know I've had a bad hamstring for a long time?"
Sept. 19, 2000
Griffey hits his 40th home run of the season, a pinch-hit shot against San Francisco's Livan Hernandez. He becomes the fourth player in history to hit 40 or more home runs five seasons in a row and the fourth player to hit 40 or more in seven seasons. Only Griffey and Babe Ruth are in both categories.
March 26, 2001
Griffey stumbles while rounding third base against the Royals in a spring-training game and grabs the back of his left leg. "Did I think it was bad? Yeah, I did," he says. "I'm relieved because they told me it was only a strain and isn't like last year's. That one was more pain."
April 29, 2001
The Reds place Griffey on the 15-day disabled list with a torn left hamstring, the first of eight stints on the DL that Griffey will make during the next eight seasons, totaling 329 days. This stay ends up being the third-longest, at 47 days.
July 17, 2001
ESPN commentators Harold Reynolds and Peter Gammons contend on the air that the last-place Reds should sit Griffey to avoid future injury. "They gave me the green light to play," Griffey says. "That's the worst thing they could have done. They said you can play, and I said, 'OK.' " Manager Bob Boone adds: "Yes, he is a franchise player. As a franchise player, he has to play. That's what franchise players do. If he says he can go, he goes. If he says he can't go, he doesn't go."
Aug. 9, 2001
Griffey hits his 450th career home run against San Francisco's Russ Ortiz. At 31 years, 261 days, he is the youngest player to reach the mark.
April 7, 2002
Season-ending surgery is discussed after Griffey partially tears the patellar tendon in his right knee during a rundown against Montreal. "Junior did what he is supposed to do — he got into a rundown on that play," third-base coach Tim Foli says. "He came toward third and stopped quick. I don't know how you can stop something like that from happening, but he did what he needed to do."
June 25, 2002
The Reds again place Griffey on the DL, this time for a torn right hamstring that he suffered against the Angels. Griffey reportedly tells a friend, "I'm not going to play again until I'm 100 percent healthy." That would be 28 days.
Sept. 18, 2002
Griffey becomes the eighth player to hit a home run into Pittsburgh's Allegheny River. He did it against future teammate Josh Fogg.
July 18, 2003
Dr. Timothy Kremchek, the Reds medical director, performs the first of two season-ending surgeries in Griffey's time with the Reds. Kremchek repairs the right ankle Griffey injured while running out a double against Houston the day before. "It's just a shame," manager Boone says. "Just when he was starting to get his swing down and it looked like he was about to take off." Griffey plays just 53 games during the 2003 season after playing just 70 in 2002.
Aug. 4, 2003
Kremchek repairs Griffey's right shoulder, which he dislocated on April 5 while diving for a ball against Chicago. He was expected to miss 6-to-10 weeks with the shoulder injury earlier in the season, but missed just 37 days and returned May 12.
June 16, 2004
After ESPN's Rob Dibble criticized Griffey for asking that either Marty Brennaman or Joe Nuxhall broadcast his 500th home run (and not third man Steve Stewart), Griffey fires back. "That goes back a few years to when I wouldn't autograph a ball for him," Griffey says. "He rips me all the time, so why would I sign a ball for him? He's ripped me ever since. He needs to grow up.
"It wasn't me who threw a ball into the center-field seats after blowing a save that hit a woman. It wasn't me fighting my manager (Lou Piniella, when he managed the Reds and Dibble was in the bullpen). It wasn't me ripping off my uniform on the field when he blew a game (after giving up a game-winning home run in New York to Bobby Bonilla). He's just mad and bitter because he was never more than a 100-miles-an-hour set-up guy."
June 20, 2004
Griffey hits his 500th home run in
St. Louis with both parents in attendance. The Cardinals fans give Griffey a standing ovation as he walks to Ken Griffey Sr. and hugs him on Father's Day.
Aug. 16, 2004
Kremchek again performs season-ending surgery on Griffey, this time for a complete tear of the right hamstring Griffey suffered Aug. 4 while making a sliding play in the outfield. Kremchek inserts three screws. "Three years ago, nobody heard of this surgery, never heard of a torn hamstring being fixed," Kremchek says. "Nobody was doing it. With this type of injury, there is no way Griffey could ever again play center field ... or left field ... or right field ... or anywhere. Zero. None."
Aug. 3, 2005
The Reds and Griffey deny reports that the team agreed to trade Griffey to the White Sox but that owner Carl Lindner vetoed it. "Not anything to it," says Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg. "Conversations I had with the Reds recently revealed that nothing was up as far as trades other than a couple of inquiries. They told me he was going to remain with the Reds. And they never came to us to ask whether Junior would accept a trade." Griffey says, "I hadn't heard about any kind of trade. But I did think it odd that the front office told Kent Mercker, David Weathers and Adam Dunn they wouldn't be traded, but nobody said anything to me. And nobody asked me or my agent anything about going to any other team."
Sept. 26, 2005
Griffey undergoes surgery again, this time to clean out both his left knee and a wound at the point of incision from his August 2004 hamstring surgery. Griffey, though, has just completed a season that will earn him the Reds' Ernie Lombardi Award as the team's most valuable player. In 128 games, he hit .301 with 35 home runs and 92 RBIs.
April 17, 2006
Griffey takes his eighth and final DL stint with the team because of an inflamed tendon behind the right knee. The next day, Griffey was running sprints in the outfield. "I'm a working man," Griffey says. "Being on the disabled list is tougher than playing. You work much harder when you're on the DL. I'd rather be playing. It's much easier." The stay lasts 24 days.
May 11, 2006
During his first game returning from the disabled list, Griffey hits a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Reds a 5-4 victory against the Washington Nationals. "One of those things," Griffey said. "I saw it, I hit it. I knew I hit it pretty well. It's awesome. I don't get many chances to hit a game-winning home run. To do that my first day back with all the abuse I've taken the last couple of weeks ... "
June 24, 2007
The Reds play the final of three games against the Mariners in Seattle, Griffey's first games in the city since his trade to Cincinnati in 2000. Griffey causes a stir when he tells the crowd, "I owe it to the fans and to myself to retire as a Mariner. Every athlete wants to finish with the team with which he started."
Sept. 7, 2007
Griffey hits his 30th home run of the season against Milwaukee's David Bush. It is Griffey's ninth season with 30 or more home runs.
June 9, 2008
Griffey's 600th career home run causes many around him to discuss his place in the game's history. "I'm surprised he can go through the airport metal detectors without setting something off," Reds manager Dusty Baker says. "He must really love the game, because he doesn't need the money. He has gone through a lot of pain and suffering. I have to damn near drag him out of the lineup."
July 31, 2008
The Reds announce they've traded Griffey to the Chicago White Sox, ending an eight-plus season stay that was at times joyous and at times tumultuous in his hometown.