Skip to content
Our Archives
Link copied to clipboard

Griffey savors shot at 600th homer

It is a remarkable list: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa. That's it. Just five players in baseball history have hit 600 or more home runs.

It is a remarkable list: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa.

That's it. Just five players in baseball history have hit 600 or more home runs.

Ken Griffey Jr. is about to become the sixth. It could happen this week at Citizens Bank Park, although Griffey did not play last night against the Phillies because of what he called "general soreness." But Griffey, who said he was hopeful of playing tonight in Game 2 of the four-game series, knows that being part of that club will be special.

"Some of those guys I've played against," Griffey said in the visitors' clubhouse yesterday afternoon. "It's just weird. Overwhelming sometimes. Embarrassing sometimes. Because I never would have dreamed that I'd be in the position I'm in. My dad was the guy that I wanted to be like. If I looked at his career and everybody looked at his career, that's the guy who looked like me, acted like me, took care of me, that's who I wanted to be like.

"I didn't think that I'd be better than him. He said I would be, and I was like, 'Yeah, right.' I was 14 at the time. Sometimes dad does know best, but you don't want to listen to him when you're 14. I'm going through that now with my 14-year-old."

Griffey typically does not talk much about his run at history. He really had not said much about it since last June in Philadelphia.

Griffey isn't complaining, though.

"I enjoy baseball and whatever comes, good, bad," he said. "I really enjoy the sport. I've done a lot of good things, a few bad things. But I don't really think about the numbers. My dad wasn't a numbers guy. That's just how I grew up. A lot of people don't understand that in a day where the hype is everything.

"I was fortunate enough to have a dad who played major-league baseball. He worried about how we were as kids, not what numbers we put up. All the questions I got as a kid were, 'How'd your team do?' And the second question was, 'How'd you do? And what do you need to work on?' "

Griffey said things certainly have changed since his rookie season with the Seattle Mariners in 1989. They certainly have changed since Ruth, Aaron and Mays reached 600.

Those three hit their home runs cleanly.

Griffey could be the next; it is suspected that Bonds and Sosa used performance-enhancing drugs to help their careers.

"My thing was: Don't embarrass your teammates and don't embarrass your family," Griffey said. "That's the only thing you try not to do. As long as you try to work hard, things will . . . It's a touchy situation."

Griffey, 38, has worked hard. But how much longer can he continue? He is not sure how much longer he will play. He said that could depend on when his 12-year-old daughter tells him to come home.

"She still likes me out of the house," he joked. "I know the boys do. I'm still having fun. I haven't discussed it."

And he's not sure he could extend his career by being a designated hitter in the American League.

"Hitting and sitting and riding a bike isn't fun," Griffey said. "Like Edgar [Martinez]. I'd be, like, 'Where you going?' And he'd say, 'I'm going to ride a bike.' I was, like, 'Aren't you hitting next inning?' And he'd say, 'Yeah, that's why I'm going on the bike.' . . . I think I'm a .240 career [hitter] as a DH. It's tough. You sleep for two innings. And you sit in the lunch room, snacking on stuff the whole game. You look up at the TV - oh, it's my turn.

"I don't know. I've never been put in that situation. I like going out there to help the ball club, play defense. It's a game. A pretty cool game."