Ken Griffey, Jr. had to fight back tears during the ceremony for his No. 24 retirement by the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night. Fans and supporters filled the stadium as emotions ran high particularly from the former Mariners star himself.
The Seattle franchise retired the number in their whole organization with players and every member of the club coming in with the Griffey’s No. 24 jersey during practice.
“They said, ‘We’ve got a little surprise for you. ‘We’re going to put your name up next to Jackie Robinson’s.’ And that’s when things hit. That definitely caps a long, wonderful week,” Griffey said via MLB.com.
Griffey played for 22 seasons in Major League Baseball, his eleven years with the Mariners from 1989 to 1999. He also played for the Cincinnati Reds (2000 to 2008) and had a short stint with the Chicago White Sox (2008). Griffey played his last two MLB seasons (2009 to 2010) with the Mariners.
“Having my number next to him, I don’t think I did half of what he did. Baseball-wise, yeah, you’re going to look at numbers and things like that. But the way he went about his life and things he did off the field, nobody can compare to that,” Griffey added, referring to Jackie Robinson, who is the first African-American to play in the major leagues in the modern era.
The Mariners also shared a video tribute to Griffey on their social media.
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With his No. 24 jersey retired, Griffey will cap an MLB career that saw 13 MLB All-Star team appearances (1990 to 2000, 2004 and 2007), 10 MLB Gold Glove Award (1990 to 1999) and an American League Most Valuable Player (AL MVP) award in 1997.
Image Credit: Keith Allison/Wikimedia