I’m not a collector. Have spent most of my adult life around baseball cards come to life, so never had a desire to gather the bubble-gum smeared cards in shoeboxes.
However, one time I couldn’t resist morphing from professional sportswriter to fawning little kid — and Ken Griffey Jr.’s return to Seattle brings it all back.
In 1990, he literally was The Kid, a 20-year-old playing through his second season with the Mariners. Pop was nearing the end of his 18th season, sitting on the Reds bench that may as well have come equipped with rockers.
Ken Griffey Sr. saw the sands of time trickling out of his career and was overtaken by a desire to connect with his Kid in a very real sense. He convinced the Reds to release him on Aug. 24, and five days later was signed by the Mariners.
On Aug. 31, the M’s unveiled their cross-generational lineup: Senior playing left and batting second, Junior batting third and playing center.
They both hit the cover off the ball for two weeks. Then the Mariners pulled into Anaheim for a series against the Angels. Two teams going nowhere, playing out the string, just trying to stay ahead of the chill of the offseason.
Then, on Sept. 14, in the second game of the four-game series, some of the magic dust from nearby Disneyland descended over Anaheim Stadium.
In the first inning, Senior swung at a choice 0-and-2 pitch from right-hander Kirk McCaskill and sent it on a line over the left-center fence for a home run. He circled the bases and was welcomed home by a warm hug from the on-deck batter, Junior.
Then The Kid stepped into the box. The count reached 3-and-0; green-lighted Junior cut at McCaskill’s low-and-outside heater and lined it over the left-center fence for his home run.
Father and son, back-to-back. Never happened before, likely to never happen again.
I worked the Seattle clubhouse after the game, as usual my scorebook tucked under my notepad for reference. As I approached the Griffeys, side-by-side also in the locker room, the singularity of their achievement struck me.
I asked both to sign my scoresheet, and they happily obliged. One below the other, adjacent to their “home run” notations.
It’s the only piece of memorabilia I have, framed on the wall of my office.
So, welcome back to the site of the miracle, Junior.