Ken Griffey Jr.
Made Major Leagues At 19
In spring 1989, Griffey joined the Mariners at training camp and ended the pre-season with a fifteen-game hitting streak and a .359 average. Though he was young, his inexperience never showed. Instead of sending Griffey back to the minors, the Mariners decided to add him to their major league roster as a center fielder. At 19, Griffey was the youngest player in the league.
It didn't take long for Griffey to establish himself. He made spectacular defensive plays, digging his spikes into the padded outfield wall and reaching up over the top, turning home runs into outs. He made diving catches other players wouldn't attempt, then gunned down runners on base. Suddenly, Seattle was interested in baseball.
By mid-July 1989, Griffey's .287 batting average topped all American League rookies. He slipped in the shower July 24 and fractured a hand bone, putting him out for a month. When Griffey returned, he struggled at the plate trying to make up for lost time and put himself back in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award.
Though Griffey ended the season without capturing the rookie award, he did capture the hearts of millions of baseball fans. Former Seattle Mariners manager Jim Lefebvre recalled Griffey's magic in an issue of the Seattle Times, "Here it was my first time managing, and I've got a budding superstar with me, learning every day, captivating all the fans throughout the country.… Each day, he'd go out and do something where you'd say, 'God, that's unbelievable. I've never seen that.' Next day, he'd so something else. It was just such a thrill to watch him play with that zest, that enthusiasm, that great talent."
- Ken Griffey Jr. - Turned Baseball Into A Family Affair
- Ken Griffey Jr. - Awards And Accomplishments
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