If you’re a fan of baseball history, you had to appreciate watching Ken Griffey Jr. hit a home run at Yankee Stadium last night.
It was No. 621 in his career, 39 shy of Willie Mays. The new Stadium also became the 44th park he has homered in, one short of the record held by Sammy Sosa,
On the clean home run list, Griffey trails only three legends: Aaron, Ruth and Mays. Had Griffey stayed a bit more healthy, yesterday could have been 721. But he’s 39 and aging the way players used to before they sought out Victor Conte and his ilk.
It’s hard to believe, but Griffey has received only one vote in the MVP balloting in the last 11 years and has been an All-Star twice in the last decade. He’s like a cameo of his greatness.
Griffey is a guy that the young players in the clubhouse were thrilled to see, much like Chipper Jones. In a game lacking heroes, those are two players you can respect.
Even Joe Girardi seemed a little tickled to have seen Junior hit one. Back in 1988, Girardi played for Pittsfield (Mass.) in the Eastern League and Griffey was with Vermont. an 18-year-old kid with all the talent in the world.
So if you’re at the Stadium tonight, cheer Griffey. It might be a long long time before we see somebody hit 621 home runs the right away again.