To me Griffey will always be “the Kid”–but time doesn’t play favorites. As the season progressed, it became increasingly clear that Junior was no longer capable of performing in the Major Leagues, and the ever classy slugger humbly bowed out.
There’s no fountain of youth for Griffey; he can’t find his back to Neverland and rediscover the talent that made him one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. The Kid is all grown up and the fans that clung to his every picture perfect swing are in the process of going through Griffey’s midlife crisis for him.
It might seem silly to some that fans would get so upset about a player retiring, but Ken Griffey Jr. wasn’t just a baseball player, he was our baseball player. Griffey put Seattle baseball on the map and is the reason that Safeco Field was built and baseball still exists in the Emerald City. He brought hope to a long-suffering franchise and provided Seattle fans with a lifetime full of highlights each time he took the field. There was nothing on the baseball diamond that Ken Griffey Jr. couldn’t do, and we were lucky to have him for as long as we did.
In a perfect world Griffey would have left after last season, with the aging superstar being carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates as the lasting image of stellar career. Of course, in a perfect world, one of the game’s greats wouldn’t have to walk away without a World Series ring and years of his prime playing days wouldn’t have been lost to countless injuries and ailments.
But it’s not a perfect world, not even for a perfect player, and there won’t be a storybook ending to Griffey’s career.
Thanks for everything you did for Seattle and for baseball Ken. We’ll never forget you…