The Seattle Mariners announced today that Ken Griffey, Jr. has retired. Just like that, he's not coming to the park any more. No parade. No fanfare. No goodbye. He doesn't want it to be a big deal.
But he was a big deal. Even to a family of Twins fans, he had a positive and lasting impact. We visited US Cellular Field a couple years ago just a few days after the White Sox acquired Griffey. My younger son likes to get shirts when we visit other teams' ballparks, and the only White Sox shirt he wanted was Griffey's. It's a good thing too, because his is the only White Sox shirt I would tolerate buying for him.
I asked my kids what their favorite Griffey memory was. My younger son said he liked everything about him: how he played center field and crashed into walls, that he was always classy, and that he played so well for so long without steroids. My older son remembers Griffey hit his 500th home run on Fathers Day.
Me, I just remember seeing him with his hat backwards, grinning and having fun. It was always clear how much he loved the game.
Best of luck, Junior.