Survey says … All-time great Griffey bound for Cooperstown

Thirteen All-Star Game appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, 630 home runs … and zero steroid accusations.

If ever there was a candidate to be baseball’s first unanimous Hall of Fame pick, admirers say, it’s Ken Griffey.

With the 40-year-old Seattle icon announcing his retirement Wednesday, Sporting News surveyed 35 pitchers who gave up at least one Griffey long ball.

Ken Griffey Jr. spent his prime years in an M's uniform.
Ken Griffey Jr. spent his prime years in an M’s uniform.

Who has the sweetest swing you ever saw?
Griffey 15
Will Clark 8
Tony Gwynn 1 1/2
John Olerud 1 1/2
George Brett 1 1/4
Also receiving votes: Albert Belle, Lance Berkman, Wade Boggs, Barry Bonds, Rod Carew, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Joe Mauer, Rafael Palmeiro, Kirby Puckett, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Robin Ventura, Larry Walker, Ted Williams.

THEY SAID IT
Pat Hentgen: "Griffey is the only American League player of my era that I made sure I was out on the field to watch when he took batting practice."
Erik Hanson: "A tie between Griffey and Ben Hogan."
Bob Tewksbury: "Will Clark’s was pretty good, too."
Michael Wuertz: "Watching Griffey while growing up, that is who you wanted to be — hat on backwards, white tape job on the bat and the waggle."

Which current player reminds you of Griffey in some way?
Torii Hunter 12 1/2
No one 11
Derek Jeter 3
Adam Jones 2
Albert Pujols 2
Also receiving votes: Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp.

THEY SAID IT
Scott Bailes: "No current player really has the flair that Junior played with."
Heath Murray: "Torii Hunter always has that smile on his face and has fun. Josh Hamilton’s natural talent may be somewhat comparable."
Scott Kamieniecki: "Both Griffey and Derek Jeter play Gold Glove defense, run the bases, hit for average, hit in the clutch, always seem to be in the right place at the right time, have a passion for the game and have fun playing."

The home run(s) he hit off me came mostly on …
Fastballs 22
Sinkers 4
Changeups 4
Also receiving votes: Curveballs, sliders, splitters.

THEY SAID IT
Jim Mecir: "A hanging screwball. It almost decapitated a fan in the right field bleachers."
Erik Hanson: "Both on fastballs. In some strange way, it almost seems like an honor now."
Mike Butcher: "I don’t usually watch home runs but the bomb he hit off my 3-2 fastball was majestic, even in a dome."

To have any shot against Griffey in his prime, you had to …
Mix your pitches 12
Fastball in 7 1/2
Get ahead in count 4 1/2
Pray 4
Also receiving votes: Fastball away, get help from umps, get him to expand zone, keep him off-balance, pitch around him.
THEY SAID IT
Pete Harnisch:
"Be an astronaut with a jetpack on so you could catch that thing."
Jeff Nelson:
"Get a call from the umpire. He got all the close calls."
Mike Buddie:
"Never duplicate locations or pitches. He was phenomenal at making mid-at-bat adjustments."

Any question he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
No question 35
Yes 0

THEY SAID IT
Joe Magrane:
"Without injuries, I feel he would be the home run champ."
Mike DeJean: "
His defense combined with his incredible swing may never be seen again in the game."
Mike Buddie:
"I wish today’s younger players could have seen him when he was 20."
Erik Hanson:
"I have a question for those that don’t vote for him on the first ballot: How do you sleep at night?"
Jason Jennings:
"Amidst all the steroids drama, never once has anyone hinted that Griffey used. That makes you appreciate him even more."
Mark Guthrie:
"All things considered, he’s the most dominant player of his era."

This story first appeared in the Dec. 21, 2009 edition of Sporting News magazine. If you are not receiving the magazine, subscribe today, or pick up a copy, available at most Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.

Thirteen All-Star Game appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, 630 home runs … and zero steroid accusations.

If ever there was a candidate to be baseball’s first unanimous Hall of Fame pick, admirers say, it’s Ken Griffey.

With the 40-year-old Seattle icon announcing his retirement Wednesday, Sporting News surveyed 35 pitchers who gave up at least one Griffey long ball.

Ken Griffey Jr. spent his prime years in an M's uniform.
Ken Griffey Jr. spent his prime years in an M’s uniform.

Who has the sweetest swing you ever saw?
Griffey 15
Will Clark 8
Tony Gwynn 1 1/2
John Olerud 1 1/2
George Brett 1 1/4
Also receiving votes: Albert Belle, Lance Berkman, Wade Boggs, Barry Bonds, Rod Carew, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Joe Mauer, Rafael Palmeiro, Kirby Puckett, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Robin Ventura, Larry Walker, Ted Williams.

THEY SAID IT
Pat Hentgen: "Griffey is the only American League player of my era that I made sure I was out on the field to watch when he took batting practice."
Erik Hanson: "A tie between Griffey and Ben Hogan."
Bob Tewksbury: "Will Clark’s was pretty good, too."
Michael Wuertz: "Watching Griffey while growing up, that is who you wanted to be — hat on backwards, white tape job on the bat and the waggle."

Which current player reminds you of Griffey in some way?
Torii Hunter 12 1/2
No one 11
Derek Jeter 3
Adam Jones 2
Albert Pujols 2
Also receiving votes: Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp.

THEY SAID IT
Scott Bailes: "No current player really has the flair that Junior played with."
Heath Murray: "Torii Hunter always has that smile on his face and has fun. Josh Hamilton’s natural talent may be somewhat comparable."
Scott Kamieniecki: "Both Griffey and Derek Jeter play Gold Glove defense, run the bases, hit for average, hit in the clutch, always seem to be in the right place at the right time, have a passion for the game and have fun playing."

The home run(s) he hit off me came mostly on …
Fastballs 22
Sinkers 4
Changeups 4
Also receiving votes: Curveballs, sliders, splitters.

THEY SAID IT
Jim Mecir: "A hanging screwball. It almost decapitated a fan in the right field bleachers."
Erik Hanson: "Both on fastballs. In some strange way, it almost seems like an honor now."
Mike Butcher: "I don’t usually watch home runs but the bomb he hit off my 3-2 fastball was majestic, even in a dome."

To have any shot against Griffey in his prime, you had to …
Mix your pitches 12
Fastball in 7 1/2
Get ahead in count 4 1/2
Pray 4
Also receiving votes: Fastball away, get help from umps, get him to expand zone, keep him off-balance, pitch around him.
THEY SAID IT
Pete Harnisch:
"Be an astronaut with a jetpack on so you could catch that thing."
Jeff Nelson:
"Get a call from the umpire. He got all the close calls."
Mike Buddie:
"Never duplicate locations or pitches. He was phenomenal at making mid-at-bat adjustments."

Any question he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
No question 35
Yes 0

THEY SAID IT
Joe Magrane:
"Without injuries, I feel he would be the home run champ."
Mike DeJean: "
His defense combined with his incredible swing may never be seen again in the game."
Mike Buddie:
"I wish today’s younger players could have seen him when he was 20."
Erik Hanson:
"I have a question for those that don’t vote for him on the first ballot: How do you sleep at night?"
Jason Jennings:
"Amidst all the steroids drama, never once has anyone hinted that Griffey used. That makes you appreciate him even more."
Mark Guthrie:
"All things considered, he’s the most dominant player of his era."

This story first appeared in the Dec. 21, 2009 edition of Sporting News magazine. If you are not receiving the magazine, subscribe today, or pick up a copy, available at most Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*