On Tuesday afternoon, Ken Griffey Junior was introduced at Safeco Field during the Seattle Mariners Opening Day festivities. The crowd roared as the right fielder jogged down a red carpet and waved to his fans.
Opening Day is always an exciting day for baseball. But in Seattle, this year's Opening Day was a little more special. Griffey was one of the best and most popular players in baseball when he played for the Mariners from 1989 to 1999. After that, he was traded to Cincinnati and played for the Reds from 2000 to 2008. This year, though, Griffey is back on the Mariners.
When Griffey first broke into the big leagues with the Mariners in 1989, he was only 19 years old. The entire country immediately fell in love with him. He hit long home runs and had a picture- perfect left-handed swing. Fans cheered when he crashed into the outfield wall to make amazing catches. In 1997 he won the American League MVP Award when he hit 56 home runs and drove in 147 runs. Throughout his career he has led the league in home runs four times and has been on the All-Star Team 13 times. Griffey entered this season with 611 career home runs, the most of anybody currently playing baseball.
Over the ten years he played in Cincinnati, though, Griffey was injured a lot and his statistics were never as good as they were in Seattle. But Griffey remained one of the most popular players in the game.
Now, after ten years, Griffey is back in Seattle, where fans still love him. On Opening Day the stadium was filled with fans ready to welcome him back. It was the first time that there was a full house at Safeco Field in a year! The fact that so many fans were happy to see Griffey back in Seattle shows how important ballplayers are to the city that they play in. From 1989-1999, Griffey was the face of the city. When people thought of Seattle, they thought about Ken Griffey Junior.
And now he's back. He is no longer a 19-year-old rookie, but a seasoned player who is 39-years-old. In a few years he will retire as one of the greatest players to ever play baseball.
In Griffey's first at-bat at Safeco field, he got a base hit. The fans stood and cheered as Griffey smiled and stood on first base. It was just like old times in Seattle.
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