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Ken Griffey Jr. - Became Home Run Champ

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Griffey continued to wow fans and in 1992 made his third All-Star appearance. He belted three hits, including a homer off Greg Maddux, to win the game's MVP award. In 1993, Griffey proved himself a productive hitter. That season, he clobbered forty-five home runs, batted .309, drove in 109 runs, and led the league with 359 total bases. In addition, his fielding was superb. He set an American League outfielder record for handling 573 consecutive chances without an error. He also hit eight home runs in eight consecutive games, tying a major-league record set by Pittsburgh Pirate Dale Long in 1956 and New York Yankee Don Mattingly in 1987.

Related Biography: Baseball Player Ken Griffey, Sr.

Ken Griffey, Sr., was born April 10, 1950, in Donora, Pennsylvania, the same city Stan Musial hailed from. Like other Donora children of that time, Griffey grew up playing baseball and dreamed of following in Musial's footsteps.

In 1969, the Cincinnati Reds drafted Griffey in the 29th round. He spent four years in the minors and in 1973 was called up to play in the Reds outfield. As Griffey heated up, so did the Reds, and he became a part of the legendary "Big Red Machine," which won the 1975 and 1976 World Series.

Griffey Sr. made the All-Star team in 1976, 1977, and 1980, and was named All-Star MVP in 1980. In 1982, he was traded to the New York Yankees. The trade was hard on the family, which stayed behind in Cincinnati. Junior Griffey was just coming into his own as a baseball star when his father left. When he needed help-or was in big trouble-he flew to New York for a consultation with his dad. Under Yankee stadium, the elder Griffey spent many hours coaching- and lecturing-his son.

By 1990, Griffey Sr. had spent eighteen years in the majors when he was released by the Cincinnati Reds partway through the season. He signed with the Seattle Mariners and hit .377 for the remainder of the season, proving the move was more than a publicity stunt to unite the father and son.

Though the two are often compared, they know they are different people. As Griffey Sr. wrote in Sports Illustrated, "I don't feel overshadowed by him. He had shortcuts-like my teaching him how to hit, how to turn on the ball, how to stay out of slumps-and while my career may not get me into the Hall of Fame, how many guys can say they hit .296 over 19 years and played on two World Series winners?"

After retiring in 1991, Griffey Sr. became a Reds coach. When Junior Griffey was traded to the Reds in 2000, he got to coach his son. By 2002, the elder Griffey was working as a scouting consultant for the team.

Griffey's streak continued into 1994. On May 20, he became the third-youngest player to reach 150 career homers. He'd smacked thirty-two homers through June to break Babe Ruth's mark of most homers (30) through June. As Griffey's streak continued, he seemed on pace to break Roger Maris's single-season home run record of 61. For the fifth-straight year, Griffey was voted to the All-Star team, this time receiving a phenomenal 6,079,688 votes, surpassing the old record of most votes received by Rod Carew in 1977, when he brought in 4,292,740 votes. However, in early August, a labor dispute between players and owners closed the season early, canceling the Mariners' last fifty games. Griffey ended the season with forty home runs, twenty-two shy of beating the single-season record. Had he played the last fifty games, it's conceivable that Griffey would have broken the record four years before slugger Mark McGwire did.

Griffey's 1995 and 1996 seasons were marred by injuries. Though he sat out twenty games in 1996, Griffey still orchestrated his best season ever. He hit .303, belted 49 home runs, and batted in 140 runs in just 140 games.

Griffey was hot again in 1997. On September 7, he smacked his fiftieth homer of the year, making him the fifteenth major leaguer of all time to reach fifty homers in one season. He led the American League in home runs (56) and runs scored (125). His 147 RBI led both the American and National leagues. For his offensive prowess, Griffey received the 1997 American League MVP award. The Mariners finished with a 90-72 record and faced the Baltimore Orioles in a best-of-five playoff series, which they lost.

Ken Griffey Jr. - Related Biography: Baseball Player Ken Griffey, Sr. [next] [back] Ken Griffey Jr. - Turned Baseball Into A Family Affair

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