We’re several months into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.
On another note, we at The Turf have always been of the mind that standing up for what is right and standing up in opposition to hate and violence is necessary. In that same breath, we affirm that Black Lives Matter. To donate to this fight, or for resources on how to help the fight against systemic racism in the United States here is a small portion of the many organizations and groups to consider: Black Visions Collective, LGBTQ Freedom Fund, The Okra Project, Reclaim the Block, Color of Change, Shed Light | Spread Light, and Black Lives Matter.
Today: The only game everyone’s going to be talking about. This is the game where the Griffeys go back-to-back.
Ken Griffey, Sr. joined the Seattle Mariners in the middle of the 1990 season. Was it a publicity stunt? Sure, but Senior still knew how to play. Hitting .296 in his career, Griffey was traded to the Mariners after a tough season with the Reds, where he had spent the majority of his career. When traded to the M’s, Griffey, Sr. went off, hitting .377 the rest of the way, finishing his 1990 season in Seattle with an OPS+ of 169. Not too shabby for a 40-year-old.
However, the other Griffey was already the talk of the town when his dad showed up. Ken Griffey, Jr., the future face of the franchise, was following up a stellar rookie season, but the Mariners weren’t going anywhere in 1990.
What we got was a feel-good story that warms our hearts. And what’s wrong with that?
There’s also something beautiful that happens in these at-bats, that I never picked up until just now. And it’s so obvious, that I’m shocked I didn’t see it earlier.
Junior is known for having a swing so sweet you could sell it to Hershey. The follow-through was iconic, the one-handed finish was art, and the effortless quality stole your breath for a moment. There’s a feeling of Musial, Williams, and Ruth, all rolled into one. It’s perfect. Ken Griffey, Jr.’s swing, is heaven.
His father’s is completely different. There’s grit and tenacity in the grip. In the extension, you can see the years of summering in the outfield sun. It’s roughly shaped, yet sturdy, a tool that gets the job done. There’s a simplicity to it that reminds you of Cobb, Rose, and Mantle. This swing has withstood the test of time.
If you watch Senior’s home run and then Junior’s, you can see baseball shift from a game of dirt and grit to one of finesse and style. The world of Senior’s swing, the one that built the game on toughness, standing tall and proud, all the while handing the torch to his son. Griffey’s swing smacks of the future, of the swagger, and of a powerful grace.
Two men, one who helped the other climb the ladder of success, who played the game at the highest level, showing that sometimes the old adage is true.
Like father, like son.
Happy Father’s Day!
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