Sep 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Ken Griffey (30) of the Big Red Machine takes the field after the Reds 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports
With just 30 days until Cincinntai Reds’ pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, we put on our smiles and turn to one of the big stars from the team’s past: Ken Griffey. Although both men wore the uniform number during their days on the Riverfront, Number 30 on our countdown team is Senior, not Junior.
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While Ken Griffey, the original, often gets lost in the glare of The Big Red Machine, and in the gaudy stats put up by Junior a generation later, you can trace a direct line from Senior’s ascension in the Major Leagues to the heart of the best Reds teams ever. Originally selected in the 29th round of the 1969 draft, Griffey spent four years in the Cincinnati farm system before getting his call to the Big Leagues in August of 1973.
He spent the next year and a half finding his way and staking his ground, but by 1975, Griffey was the main main in right field. That season, he hit just four home runs, but got on base at a .391 clip and scored 95 runs as part of one of the more potent lineups in MLB history. The next season, Griffey’s numbers were up across the board, and his 5.7 WAR helped him garner eight place in the 1976 MVP voting.
While that age-26 season was arguably the best of Griffey’s career, he settled in to star-level production for another 15 seasons, retiring after the 1991 campaign with 2143 hits, 152 home runs, an even 200 stolen bases and a .296 career batting average. Not a bad warm-up act for his more famous son, who never reached the post-season heights that Dad did in the mid-1970s with the Reds.
Ken Griffey was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2004.