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Ken Griffey Jr.

Spent Childhood At Ballpark Watching Father

George Kenneth Griffey, Jr., better known as Ken Griffey, Jr., or simply "Junior," was born November 21, 1969, in Donora, Pennsylvania, to Alberta and Ken Griffey, Sr. At the time, Griffey's father had just completed his first minor league season in the Cincinnati Reds farm system. Early on, Griffey began imitating his father. By the time he could walk, he was swinging a chunky, plastic baseball bat.

To say baseball was in Griffey's blood is an under-statement. His grandfather, Buddy Griffey, played ball at Donora High School alongside Stan Musial. In 1973, Ken Griffey, Sr., was called up to play for the Reds, and the family relocated to Cincinnati. Griffey and his little brother, Craig, spent their childhoods at Riverfront Stadium in pint-sized Cincinnati Reds uniforms. As children, the Griffey boys hung out with stars like Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez.

The elder Griffey quickly established himself as a baseball star. He was part of Cincinnati's famed "Big Red Machine," which won the 1975 and 1976 World Series. It became apparent that Griffey was a chip off the old block as soon as he began playing organized baseball. Because Griffey was so much better than the other players, parents on the opposing teams thought he was too old to play in the league. His mother had to carry his birth certificate to games to prove he belonged.

Though Griffey's father traveled during the baseball season, he remained close to his sons and taught them valuable lessons. Once, when Griffey was a teen, he smacked a crowd-awing homer and rounded the bases pumping his fists. His father caught him at home plate—with a lecture about sportsmanship. Griffey never flaunted his talent again.

At Moeller High School, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound teen starred on both the football and baseball teams. By his senior year, Griffey was pegged as a future major leaguer and baseball scouts came out in full force, sometimes outnumbering fans in the stands.

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