Results tagged ‘ Ken Griffey Jr. ’

Griffey Home Run Derby Memories

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


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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