A ‘grand’ morning chat with Junior

Sitting on top of the large trunk that accompanies him everywhere he goes, Ken Griffey Jr.  was talking about the walk-off grand slam that he hit yesterday against the Reds.

I asked him if ‘grand slam’ entered his mind when he walked to the plate.

“Hell, yeah,” he said.

Did you get a little over-anxious when the count went 3-and-0 and you got the green light?

“Hell, yeah,” he said.

Were the first three pitches you took for balls closer to being strikes than the first two pitches you swung at and missed?

“Hell, yeah,” he said.

How many career slams do you have?


The classic Griffey grin returned and he said, “You know, I ended a game once with a walk-off inside-the-park homer.”

Indeed, one of his three career inside-the-park home runs gave the Reds an almost-instant-win against the Cardinals at Riverfront Stadium on August 20, 2001.

“It was hit into left-center field gap, closer to center field,” Griffey recalled. “Just as (Jim) Edmonds was bracing himself before hitting the wall, the ball hit his shoulder, bounced off the wall, hit the rubber warning track and kept rolling, and rolling.”

By the time the ball was retrieved and returned to the infield, Griffey was sliding across the plate with the game-winning run.

Being a Google fan, I checked out the facts about walk-off home runs and the one he hit against the Cards is still the most recent in the Major Leagues.

In fact, there have been only 15 inside-the-park walk-off home runs in the past 53 seasons, from Roberto Clemente on July 25, 1956, to Griffey’s in ’01. No one has hit more than one during that half-century-plus span.

The last American League player to do it was Tim Tuefel of the Twins on June 24, 1984.

Meanwhile, as a “reward” for ending yesterday’s game on such a high note, Junior is getting today off — that and the fact the Mariners are playing the Dodgers in Glendale this afternoon and the DH rule is not being used.

And now for the Mariners lineup:

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Chone Figgins, 2B
3. Casey Kotchman, 1B
4. Milton Bradley, LF
5. Jose Lopez, 3B
6. Adam Moore, C
7. Corey Patterson, CF
8. Jack Wilson, SS
9. Ian Snell, RHP

— Jim Street


Doesn’t count but for technicality sake, Ichiro’s inside-the-parker in the 2007 All-Star Game. Ironically, hit to Griffey!

Doesn’t count but for technicality sake, Ichiro’s inside-the-parker in the 2007 All-Star Game. Ironically, hit to Griffey!

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