peter · May 9, 2005 at 12:11 am · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners 

It’s been nearly 16 years in the making. And I can’t help feeling just a little inadequate in making this confession as a contributor to this little corner of the interweb-thingy. But here goes anyway.

I witnessed tonight my first live and in-person Junior Griffey home run.

There I said it.

I was there. He led off the 4th. Blast to right-center. No doubt about it. He tied Eddie Murray for 19th on the all-time list.

He also robbed Milton Bradley in the top of that same inning. Back against the “404” sign in dead center, glove just over the wall. He seemed most surprised to find the ball in his glove.

Ex-Mariners on the night:
Junior Griffey – 1-for-3, solo homer, Weaver beaned him his next time up

Rich Aurilia – 0-for-3, two strikeouts, flung his helmet and bat nearly as far as Griffey’s moonshot when he struckout with the bases loaded to end the 6th and the Reds down 5-2

Giovanni Carrera – 1 IP, 2 K (including Griffey) and 1 run on back-to-back hits to Dunn and Randa


46 Responses to “#504”

  1. Chris Begley on May 9th, 2005 12:40 am

    Funny thing reading this I was CERTAIN that I had seen a Griffey home run in the first Mariner game I ever went to (July 14, 1991, Seattle 14 – Cleveland 3 – god bless retro sheet). But alas. I have never seen him go yard, as the box score shows he went 1 for 5 with a single. Edgar, however, oh Edgar. What a night to welcome me to live, MLB. Check out this line: 4 for 4 with 4 runs and 2 RBIS and a walk. Included amongst those four hits were a triple and a home run (just for fun, I want to point out that in that game he had an OPS of roughly 3.250). No wonder I always liked Edgar more than Griffey!

    The other memory of this game is Sandy Alomar Jr. in the BP after warming up a pitcher NOT signing his baseball card for a poor 14 year old Canadian boy.

  2. Jim Thomsen on May 9th, 2005 12:40 am

    Peter: What, in your opinion, is Carrara doing differently to be successful now when he stunk up the joint as a Mariner in 2003? Guys who get BETTER in their late 30s are so rare as to be worth closely observing for what changes they’ve made.

    If Griffey hopes to hit #604 someday, he needs to move back to the American League and be a DH. One wonders if a ) his ego would accept it; and b) Cincinnati would accept it. He’s always a twitch away from missing 53 games out there in center.

    Aurilia is irrtrievably done. Why is this so hard for baseball to accept?

  3. clarence credence on May 9th, 2005 1:06 am

    I can’t even remember who it was against, but I saw Junior hit three home runs in the Kingdome one night in the mid-1990s. Yes, I’m an idiot for not remembering more, but I remember that it was electric.

  4. Paul Covert on May 9th, 2005 1:15 am

    The first time I saw Griffey play was on May 16, 1989. My boss took me to the game, and we were disappointed that “The Kid” wasn’t in the starting lineup.

    Events in the bottom of the eighth, of course, caused us to change our minds (see Retrosheet link above).

  5. Conor Glassey on May 9th, 2005 1:34 am

    Peter – Congratulations! Seeing Griffey hit a home run is pretty sweet. You also saw #72…was it the first time you’ve seen Griffey get plunked as well?

    Regarding Carrera: I know that hindsight is 20/20, and it’s easy to say now, but I don’t think the M’s gave him enough of a chance. Sure, he was really stinking it up, his strikeouts were down and his walks were up…but he only pitched 29 innings. We all know that anyone can look great or horrible for a 29-inning stretch. An interesting thing is that Carrera’s BABIP was .337, when the team median that year was .277, so how much of his bad numbers can be chalked up to just bad luck?

  6. tvwxman on May 9th, 2005 7:25 am

    I’ve seen a couple Jr. homers, and even have a ball hit out of the park by him (didn’t catch it, but the kid who did sold it to me for $5).

    One thing I’m always mad that I missed was RJ’s first no-no. Went to the game before it. I also missed Kenny Rogers perfect game by one game in Arlington. I hate when that happens.

  7. B. David on May 9th, 2005 8:57 am

    I didn’t realize people from Seattle actually called him “Junior Griffey”. I thought that was just Gammons.


  8. Rusty on May 9th, 2005 8:57 am

    This is how much I’ve blocked out last year from my memory… when Peter said “Rich Aurilia” I was thinking Rich Amaral. And I’m thinking… I didn’t even know he was still in the game and I didn’t know him to be a hothead.

  9. Dash on May 9th, 2005 9:17 am

    #7. I don’t think most people from Seattle call him Junior Griffey. Most people I know call him either Junior or Griffey.

  10. Baltimore M's Fan on May 9th, 2005 9:31 am

    I was lucky enough to see George Kenneth’s first career homer. It was an opposite field shot against the White Sox (I think) in his first home game. I was 9 at the time and my Seattle baseball heroes had been Jim Presley and Alvin Davis. With all the hype surrounding him coming up, for him to do that was amazing. My father had Ted Williams, and I had Griffey from that moment on.

  11. Troy on May 9th, 2005 9:36 am

    Baltimore – I was 8 at the time, but wasn’t as lucky as you as I was just listening on the radio. I remember it well (just like watching the double off of Dave Stewart on TV in his first game). Junior will always be my hero.

  12. John D. on May 9th, 2005 9:38 am

    Re: Ex-Mariners (and Ex-Mariner farmhands), you might have mentioned JASON VARITEK, DAVID ORTIZ, RAMON VAZQUEZ, MIKE TIMLIN, JOHN HALAMA, and MIKE MYERS; all of whom played yesterday, and against the Mariners.

  13. Ralph Malph on May 9th, 2005 9:45 am

    You have to remember that early in his Seattle career he played with his father. People called them “Junior” and “Senior”.

    I never heard anybody call Sandy Alomar Jr. or Jose Cruz Jr. “Junior”, but they didn’t play alongside their dads.

  14. Adam M on May 9th, 2005 10:24 am

    I saw #1, the home opener against Oakland in his first at-bat, maybe the second pitch he saw – a high fly just inside the left-field foul pole.

    Other famous M’s homers I’ve seen (all Kingdome):
    *Jr. getting his 7th straight game with a HR.

    *Jerry Willard hitting a PH 3-run shot. He then got sent down to Calgary a few days later, never to be heard from again. Still, way to make the most of your shot, Jerry!

    *Dann Howitt hitting a GS against Nolan Ryan in Ryan’s last career start. Ryan seemed pretty much cooked, and would tear something in his arm against the next batter, a very sad ending to a legendary career.

    *Just missed the Jr./Sr. back-to-back shots because my dad and I got stuck in traffic and missed the 1st inning.

  15. msb on May 9th, 2005 10:27 am

    #9–Dash said:”#7. I don’t think most people from Seattle call him Junior Griffey. Most people I know call him either Junior or Griffey.”

    maybe it’s like the way people outside the state will say “take the I-5” or “on the 405″

    #13–Ralph Malph said:”I never heard anybody call Sandy Alomar Jr. or Jose Cruz Jr. “Junior”, but they didn’t play alongside their dads.”

    IIRC, Santos Sr. nickname IS Sandy, and Jr is known as Sandino — and Cruz’ nickname is Cheito, Little Cheo– his father being Cheo

  16. Tim on May 9th, 2005 10:38 am

    Re #3: I was at a game in 1997 where Jr. hit 3 solo home runs including two off Roger Clemens. I think it was early in 1997, April/May maybe? That was an awesome kingdome game. I think the final score was 12 – 7 or something like that. Junior is still my favorite player in baseball.

  17. Manzell B on May 9th, 2005 10:44 am

    I’ve been lucky to see several, several Griffey home runs. Back in the day, the cheapest seats in the kingdome were on the 100 level in right field. $4. I clearly remember one game in 1990, I was attending with my dad. It was the ninth inning and the M’s were down by 4 or 5. My dad suggested we leave a little bit early to beat the rush, but Griffey was in the on-deck circle, maybe coming to bat at the time. I told my dad “Wait, I want to see Griffey hit this home run first!”.

    What do you know, but Griffey launches a big high looper than lands not more than 10 rows from where we were sitting. a one-run homerun in a lost game, but it’ll always be my “called shot”.

  18. hurt on May 9th, 2005 11:01 am

    There was a string there where I didn’t see a game where he DIDN’T homer.

    Living in Minnesota in the late 90’s you see.

    Also saw several multi-homer games including the 3 on opening day in 1997 off the Yankees David Cone.

    Ahh . . .good times . . . .

  19. sodomojojojo on May 9th, 2005 11:16 am

    Ahh, memories of the Kingdome. A friend & I used to buy those really cheap-ass tix on the first base side, move down and chat it up with the visiting team’s bullpen. (This was in the 80’s when even the players weren’t paying that much attention to the M’s).

    Also witnessed Dan Wilson’s inside the park home run and Randy’s last home start in a M’s uniform.

  20. djw on May 9th, 2005 11:24 am

    One of the first games I saw at the kingdome was a 5 home run, 8-0 shut-out for the M’s which included not one but two homers for Rey Quinones. I’ve always meant to go find that game on retrosheet….

  21. forgotten schmo on May 9th, 2005 11:32 am

    Seen way more Griffey’s hrs than I probably should, but his swing is just so pretty to watch. In general stars are built up, and then torn down but the few who don’t get crushed in the process always come out of it much more likable. He’ll never be what he was, but its good to hear the old dog bark again. I agree he does need to DH to manage those legs, at least part time.

  22. John in NV on May 9th, 2005 11:35 am

    Anybody else have a Griffey candy bar wrapper? The homer streak was a great time; seemed like he could do ANYTHING he wanted.
    Glad someone realized that it’s not “Junior Griffey.” As we start to talk about his career, legacy, etc. I’m waiting for the naysayers to begin the talk about adjusting his numbers for the Dome factor. Probably happening already. Such a shame that he didn’t love us in the end the way we loved him.

  23. F-Rod on May 9th, 2005 12:04 pm

    I was also fortunate to attend Griffey’s bomb two left field in his debut (also Omar’s (then #42) debut highlighted by a great diving double play up the middle)

    Griffey was and will always be the greastest M to ever put on a Uniform…

    My two favorite performances that I witnessed in the dome were his tag out near second base against the Rockies when he came in sprinting from Center to sneak behind a rockie who thought out two was out three.

    And his last game in the dome which he won single handedly with hitting a three run bomb, and saving a three run homer over the wall

    Any one who would prefer watching Edgar than Griffey in his prime is foolish… The Kid was absolutely electric

  24. Baltimore M's Fan on May 9th, 2005 12:06 pm

    It seemed like Griffey hit a homer every home opener. The Dome was still filled with smoke and he’d smack one out.

    My favorite homer of his may be the one against the Yankees in August of ’95 that started the Refuse to Lose run. The teal jersey, his arms raised in the air.
    Could use another magical late season run like that.

    I like Meche tonight in The Stadium. And I get to watch! Thank you ESPN

  25. forgotten schmo on May 9th, 2005 12:15 pm

    We know about the ton of injuries. Does he reach 600 or limp off into the sunset?

    Logic tells me limp off, but if he got traded to the AL I could see a mini bounce back for a couple of years before hanging em up. He’s defied logic before as a player. Reality I can’t imagine how he would get traded to anyone, so I’d say limp off in a Reds jersey without reaching it.

  26. forgotten schmo on May 9th, 2005 12:16 pm

    Those teal jerseys were nasty.

  27. Troy on May 9th, 2005 12:16 pm

    Yep Baltimore, that might have been my favorite of Griffey’s homers as well. I remember it was the first time he ever hit a walkoff homerun, and it was the first real contribution that he made after coming back from the wrist injury (and bumping Rob Ducey from the lineup). I believe it was off John Wetteland. When he hit that one, I really started to believe a run at the Angels was possible.

  28. Cliff on May 9th, 2005 12:29 pm

    Re: #14, I was at that last Nolan Ryan game also, about 12,000 of us resonating in the Dome (the good part was always that any good heckler knew he would be heard by EVERYONE in the place) – and heckling Buhner for chasing the high strike was always a good time…

    Saw Junior hit a number of home runs, and the thing that always struck me was the pure effortlessnes of his homers back then. Just that sweet smooth stoke,and, bango, into the stands. I am not sure I have ever seen anyone else that made it look so easy to crush a ball. That is the saddest part of his spate of injuries over the last few years.

  29. PositivePaul on May 9th, 2005 12:38 pm

    Since this is a reminiscing sort of thread (at least it’s gone that direction), and with the start today facing a former M’s star, I have to say that my greatest ‘Dome visit was the night that RJ had 19 strikeouts, and still lost the game. See, a semi-buffed read-headed first baseman with gigantaloid biceps hadn’t quite left Oakland yet, and parked the ball about 2 rows shy of the scoreboard. About 20 feet from where we were sitting. Unlike a previous game where Mo Vaughn parked one near the rafters in left field, I didn’t tell the kid to throw it back…

  30. Nadingo on May 9th, 2005 12:45 pm

    I’m shocked, simply shocked, that you can write a post about Griffey Jr. and former Mariners and not mention my all-time favorite former Mariner, Mike Cameron, who happened to go 2 for 3 with a walk, a HR, and 2 RBIs yesterday, continuing his four-game two-hits-per-game hitting streak. Has Cammy finally figured out how to hit for average, or does he just REALLY like hitting in Miller Park?

  31. msb on May 9th, 2005 12:52 pm

    F-Rod said:”And his last game in the dome which he won single handedly with hitting a three run bomb, and saving a three run homer over the wall”

    also notable for Edgar losing his temper, and getting tossed. Not as good as the mound charge in ’01, but it happened so infrequently that it was an event.

  32. Aaron on May 9th, 2005 12:57 pm

    I know I’ve seen at least one Griffey HR, and growing up on the east side, just getting to a game was the thrill of a lifetime. It’s a 5 hour drive each way from Walla Walla, and for a one day trip, that was a long day. I don’t even remember exactly what year it was now, 91? 92? 93? But it was worth it, since that remains the only win I’ve ever personally witnessed (out of 6, plus an exhibition). Strangely, out of those 6, 5 came against the A’s (I guess not that strange, since the last two were in Oakland). The only other was just a few weeks after Safeco opened. It was against the D-Rays, and I think Griffey went yard in that game, too, but I have to check retrosheet (I remember TB won 7-1).

  33. westfried on May 9th, 2005 1:07 pm

    A friend of mine, for his 2nd ever live game, saw David Cone pitch at Yankee Stadium. He called me afterwards to gloat:

    him: “Sucker, I just saw a no-hitter.”
    me: “um… actually, it was a perfect game.”
    him: “What’s the difference?”
    me: “sigh.”

  34. Feldor on May 9th, 2005 1:16 pm

    The only Griffey homer I remember seeing live was an inside the park job that went off a diving Roberto Kelly’s forehead. It had to be in 90 or 91, and he was flying around the bases. There wasn’t even a play at the plate. He was amazing.

  35. Scraps on May 9th, 2005 1:41 pm

    I’m waiting for the naysayers to begin the talk about adjusting his numbers for the Dome factor.

    My (not especially reliable) memory is that the Kingdome’s reputation as a homer park is much exaggerated.

  36. Adam T on May 9th, 2005 1:42 pm

    Re: $24, 27

    Great comeback game!

    Coleman walk, stole 2nd, stole 3rd, Cora single off of Fernandez’s glove, Jr homer! I believe it all happened with two outs…I remember Newsom got out, can’t remember who else batted.

    Andy Benes started the game and I think Ruben Sierra hit a home run for the Yankees.

    Dad skipped work to take me — he locked his keys in the car, while running, because he was so excited!

  37. Daniel Carroll on May 9th, 2005 2:44 pm

    Man, I wish I get so lucky. Junior is my childhood, man.

    If I get the chance, I’m going to Chicago over my birthday to watch the M’s play the Sox… then watch the Reds and the Cubbies. If I get so lucky as to see Junior jack one, man. I mean, I’m getting goosebumps thinkin’ about it.

    M’s better not let anybody else wear #24… what’s weird is I swear 3rd base coach Dave Myers was wearing #11 in my dream last night. What the hell.

  38. Vince on May 9th, 2005 3:10 pm

    I was at Safeco for Junior’s last home run in a Mariner uniform.

    The only other memorable one I saw in person was Doug “Doctor” Strange’s two-run homer to tie the game against Texas in the bottom of the ninth in September, 1995.

  39. Evan on May 9th, 2005 3:35 pm

    30 – Cammy’s always been a streaky hitter. Luckily his value was never tied up in his batting average.

    Sort of like Sexson, but while Cammy drew a ton of walks, Sexson hits for a ton of power.

  40. Jim in Edmonds on May 9th, 2005 3:36 pm

    I saw a ton of Griffey home runs, from his first against the White Sox in 1989 on the FIRST pitch he saw in the Dome (I think off Eric King)through his 100th (off KC’s Billy Brewer)to his short stint at SAFECO, and, for my money, Junior was (and is) the GREATEST player I ever saw defensively and offensively (no disrespect to Ichiro intended). His defense rivalled Mays and DiMaggio in center, and his lazer-beam power stroke was something to behold. A-rod may, when all is said and done, may be the greatest player to wear the Mariner uniform, but no one was as exciting and electric as Junior. It is this simple, had Junior not come along, this team would not be in Seattle today. I look forward to the day he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  41. Adam M on May 9th, 2005 4:07 pm

    Long ago, in a dome not so far away, I remember attending a game where Dave Valle–of all people–hit just a *monster* shot to center. He went into his trot (we must savor the rare chances we get), then suddenly realizes the ball had hit the speaker hanging from the roof and landed fair. Anyone who spent time in the Dome should appreciate how gargantuan a flyball that has to be – speakers were suspended just inside the outfield wall and very high off the ground. Even more bizarre, Valle suddenly has to get on his horse, such as it was, and start chugging around the basepaths, only to get thrown out at home.

    OK, did I hallucinate this?

    I also recall at least one routine flyball hitting the outfield streamers and landing for a single.

  42. F-Rod on May 9th, 2005 4:31 pm

    Good post but Joey D has nothing on Griff in my guestimation

    Considering the fact that I’m only 22, and did not see Joe-D/Mays play.. I will still argue on the behalf Griff. The reason he is hobbling now is bc of the spectacular way that he played the field…..He would dive slide and leap into the turf or wall unlike Joey “overated” Dimaggio

    While I never saw Joe D. play I have seen his Sports Century biography in which a announcer speaks about how he never say Joe D dive bc “he got such good jumps” “he was so good he never had to get his jersey dirty” what a load of crap…. no matter how good a jump or how fast you are you still need to dive or slide to make spectacular plays and save runs ala K. Griffey Jr

    Growing up I went to 40 games a year from 89-99 and saw Jr. get amazing jumps and make spectacular leaps reclessly throwing his body around…

    I also didnt see any Mays…but “The Catch” was decent but maybe the most overrated play of alltime… I just watched it 11 times on my DVR on ESPN classic last week and I wouldnt put it near any of my favorite Griffey catches

  43. F-Rod on May 9th, 2005 4:32 pm

    #41 I’m pretty sure that Valle sequence was on an opening day…probably 1990 or 1991

  44. Jim in Edmonds on May 9th, 2005 4:41 pm

    #41, I saw that Valle blast on opening day, I believe, 1989. The same day that saw Junior come to the Kingdome for the first time.

  45. Adam M on May 9th, 2005 8:37 pm

    #2 Jim Thomsen: as a Dodgers and Ms fan, it looks to me like Carrara is just much more comfortable with the Dodger organization – he’s been there longer, knows the staff, etc. He doesn’t throw great stuff: his fastball is about average, but his changeup has above-average motion, and when he’s just letting the fastball fly, it can be really effective. Last night against the Reds, he was freezing guys with his changeup, and then just winging the fastball past them. Unlike the change, I don’t think Gio knows where his FB’s going to go half the time, which may not be a bad thing. When you’re nervous or uncomfortable, you start to throw rather than pitch, and you can’t get the fastball over as quickly, get a good motion on it, etc. He also seems to have a strong affinity for the Dodgers, whenever he comes in, you know he’s going to leave everything he has on the field. He never seemed to have that with the M’s.

  46. Benjamin Ramm on May 9th, 2005 8:52 pm

    I don’t know why anyone equivocates: using the term “Junior Griffey” should automatically terminate all right to be on a Mariners’ website. That abomination of a moniker was dreamt up by Peter Gammons. Ken Griffey, Ken Griffey Junior, George, “The Kid,” all acceptable. Junior Griffey, more than disconcerting.

    I can’t remember which home runs I saw, beyond the one he hit to beat the Yankees in August of 95. Scored Joey Cora. Of course I’ve always been amazed that people remember that home run more than Vince Coleman drawing a walk from a 1-2 count with 2 outs, stealing second AND third, and then scoring on a looping liner right over the glove of Tony Fernandez to tie the game. Fernandez mistimed his jump. If Coleman hadn’t stolen third, that liner wouldn’t have scored him. Griffey’s home run felt like an after thought to me and the people who talked to me on the ferry ride back to Bremerton.