Results tagged ‘ Ken Griffey Jr. ’

Notes From The Road (New York & Baltimore)

The Mariners are in the midst of a 10-day, nine-game road trip to New York, Baltimore and Las Angeles. This is already the Mariners fourth road trip of nine game or more this season, and that doesn’t include the season-opening trip to Japan to take on the A’s, and a pair of Japanese clubs.

When Seattle flies home on Sunday afternoon, the team will already have travelled about 46,000 miles through the air, and an additional 420 miles by train (from New York to Boston on an earlier trip, and from New York to Baltimore on this one).

While it is always tough for the team to be away from Safeco Field, there are things you only see on the road. Here’s a few:

BIG CITY, BIG CLUBHOUSE…Old Yankee Stadium (the “House that Ruth Built”) had a lot going for it: history, Hall of Famers and championships, but a nice visiting clubhouse didn’t make the list. New Yankee Stadium (the “Palace that George Built”) has a big visiting clubhouse (pictured) and, rumor has it, a palatial home clubhouse. Given how much time players spend in the clubhouse on the road, it’s nice that the new stadium actually has enough lockers, and a place to sit down, for everyone.

WOW, HE LOOKS GOOD FOR HIS AGE…Taking the field for batting practice in New York, fans saw a man in a #40, Chambliss jersey jogging out to the outfield. A few of the younger fans starting yelling “Chris, Chris” trying to get an autograph. Hard to tell if Russell, Chris Chambliss’s mid-30s son, was complimented or just confused to be mixed up with his dad, Mariners hitting coach Chris, who retired from playing in 1988…at the age of 40. Russell, who played in the Yankees organization from 1997-99, was visiting and helped shag in the outfield during BP.

HE REALLY DOES IT ALL…The first day in New York, Seattle media were amused, New York media bemused (or just confused), to have their credentials checked at the visiting clubhouse door by Felix Hernandez. Felix had wandered outside to say hello to the longtime clubhouse door guard and was standing there at 3:30 pm, when the clubhouse opened to media. Always happy to assist, he checked passes and helped media sign in as they entered to talk to players pre-game.

OLD FRIENDS…Seattle media, players and staff were happy to catch up with a handful of media they hadn’t seen in a week or so…after seeing the same group nearly every day for 10 years. Five Japanese “beat” reporters moved to New York when Ichiro was traded on July 23. After being in Seattle for more than a decade, they are adjusting to New York and covering the Yankees.

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK…For the second time this season, the Mariners left New York by train, rather than flying to the next city. Earlier this season, Seattle travelled by train to Boston. This time, the team boarded a chartered train to Baltimore. With Philadelphia native, and New York off-season resident Dave Sims providing play-by-play the team took a very smooth 2-hour ride from New York to Baltimore. The train travelled through New Jersey and Philadelphia (“historic Franklin Field on your right!”) on its way to Baltimore. Train trivia: The team left Penn Station in New York, and arrived at Penn Station in Baltimore. We did not pass through Penn Station in Philadelphia, as there is no Penn Station in Philadelphia.

GOOD SPOT FOR A SPORTS BAR…When TVs in New York and Baltimore were not playing pre-game scouting video, they were filled with the Olympics — usually two or three channels worth – pre and post-game. As Mariners players come from a variety of countries, there were a variety of rooting interests, and a variety of popular sports. Perhaps not surprisingly, soccer and basketball were very popular. Somewhat surprising was how much passion ended up being expended on swimming, volleyball and water polo.

SINCE WE SHOWED YOU THE OTHER ONE…Here’s a look at Baltimore’s visiting clubhouse. A very comfortable clubhouse run by longtime clubhouse manager Fred Tyler. Fred, who has been in charge of the visiting clunhouse since 1984, is part of the Tyler dynasty in Baltimore. His brother, Jim, has run the home clubhouse since 1979 after starting with the team as a clubhouse boy in 1962. They both worked with, or for, their father with the Orioles, and are a part of 11 Tyler children who worked for the Orioles at some point.

HE’S BIG EVERYWHERE…the Orioles home park (officially, Oriole Park at Camden Yards) is perhaps best known for the warehouse visible beyond right field. The B&O Warehouse is 439-feet from home plate (down the line), across Eutaw Street. Built between 1898-1905, the warehouse is the longest building on the East Coast at 1016-feet, but is only 51-feet wide. Ken Griffey Jr. became the first player to hit the warehouse on the fly, a feat commemorated by a plaque on the wall of the warehouse (pictured).

Griffey Home Run Derby Memories

Ken Griffey Jr. is the only player to win baseball’s HR Derby more than once. (Getty Images)

ONLY ONE SLUGGER HAS WON BASEBALL’S HR DERBY MORE THAN ONCE

His name: Ken Griffey, Jr.

 The Home Run Derby was added as a special event by Major League Baseball on the day before the All-Star Game in 1985 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.  In the 26 HR contests since then (it was rained out in Cincinnati in 1988), only one hitter has won the Derby more than once.

The Corner of Edgar & Dave brings that up for a local reason, of course.  And that’s because that one hitter was Ken Griffey  Jr., all while wearing a Mariners uniform.  Ken won, not one or two, but THREE of these longball events.  Even though he insisted throughout his career that “I’m not a home run hitter”, we all know that with his swing, he couldn’t help but be one.

While most fans remember Ken hitting the warehouse in right field at Baltimore’s Camden Yards during the 1993 Home Run Derby (the first ever to do so in batting practice or a game),  Griffey was the runner up to Juan Gonzalez after a “playoff” that year.

One year later, he won his first HR Derby at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, winning a great battle with White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.

Then he won back-to-back HR Derbies, besting runner-up Jim Thome of the Indians at Coors Field in Denver in 1998, and topping Jeromy Burnitz of the Brewers at Fenway Park in 1999.

Ken Griffey Jr. won the 1999 All-Star HR Derby at Fenway Park.

Griffey finished second to Sammy Sosa of the Cubs at Turner Field in Atlanta in 2000, and that was the last time Ken participated in MLB’s Home Run Derby.

Ken’s career home run total of 630 (1989-2010) ranks sixth on the all-time list, trailing just Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriquez.  Some pretty amazing company.

[This year’s State Farm HR Derby at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City is scheduled for Monday, July 9.  It will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 5:00 pm Pacific time.]

Here is some more information on the annual HR Derby:

Griffey won his first HR Derby in 1994 at Three Rivers Stadium.

- RA

Wedge and Griffey Visit Japan

Mariners manager Eric Wedge and Ken Griffey Jr. spent the past weekend in Japan.

The quick (48 hours!) jaunt to Tokyo provided an opportunity for the pair to help promote the Japan Opening Series 2012 when the Mariners and Oakland A’s will open the regular-season with a pair of games in the Tokyo Dome (March 28 and 29).

Mariners Manager Eric Wedge gives some batting tips.

More importantly, it provided an opportunity for Ken and Eric to help spread their passion for the game to youth in Japan.

The duo flew from Seattle to Tokyo, leaving Friday the 13th, and landing about 6pm on Saturday the 14th. On Sunday, they drove about an hour outside of Tokyo to the Yomiuri Giants training facility to assist with a clinic for 110, 8- to 12-year-old kids from around Japan, including a special group from Fukushima.

Ken Griffey Jr., center, chats with children at a baseball clinic (AP)

Fukushima was devastated by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami and the 36 players from there (who took a four-hour bus ride to be at the clinic) are still dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy.

Eric Wedge poses for photos with particpants in the clinic.

The clinic went about two hours; Ken and Eric (joined by coaches and players from Yomiuri) worked with the kids, gave an opening and closing statement, signed autographs and posed for pictures. Ken and Eric brought oversized baseball cards of themselves and, at the end of the clinic, the kids lined up and every player received a photo and a handshake for both Ken and Eric.

Oakland Athletics Manager Bob Melvin, left, Seattle Mariners Manager Eric Wedge, center, and Mariners Special Consultant Ken Griffey Jr. pose for photographer after a press conference of 2012 MLB Opening Series in Japan in Tokyo (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

At the end of the formal clinic, Eric and Ken held a special meet and greet with the Fukushima kids; each child received either a Mariners hat signed by both guys, or a ball signed by both Ken and Eric.

Not surprisingly, in addition to the excitement and rapt attention paid to both Mariners, the major league players and staff from Yomiuri were very interested to meet, talk with, and (shyly) ask for autographs and photos from Wedge and Griffey.

Monday afternoon (after spending an hour at a sumo wrestling (!) tournament in the morning) Wedge and Griffey were joined by Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin for a news conference to talk about the Opening Series.

The passion for MLB in Japan is obvious, as nearly 200 media packed into a hotel ballroom to see the three, and ask questions about the two exhibition games and two regular season games in March.

Mariners Manager Eric Wedge and Athletics Manager Bob Melvin after the news conference for the 2012 MLB Opening Series in Japan (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Wedge and Griffey left about an hour after the news conference, and flew out of Tokyo on 6 pm flights. Thanks to the magic of time zones, Wedge was back in his office in Safeco Field (meeting with Jack Zduriencik) by 10:30 am Monday morning.

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- TH

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