Saturday, June 23, 2007

Crying in Baseball

I shed tears today... over a baseball player!

Yes, I cried for Ken Griffey, Jr.'s return to Seattle, 8 years after leaving our fair city to play in Cincinnati.

I watched his press conference. Saw him struggle to answer questions without giving too much of himself away. I watched him at the pre-game ceremony. Saw him try to control his emotions, as the sold out crowd showed him how much they still love him.

My husband says Ken Griffey, Jr. made it FUN to be a Mariners' fan. I would agree. We moved here in 1995 (well, Stu grew up here, so he knows more than I do). I remember the heady days at the Kingdome, when the M's made it to the ALCS (by beating my beloved Yankees). I remember the season of "Refuse to Lose." Of "Two outs, So What?"

I heard stories of Griffey's generosity. How he gave up part of his salary to keep teammate and friend Jay Buhner in a Mariners' uniform. How he helped various causes involving children, most without any press.

I also heard stories about his ego. But hey, what pro athlete doesn't have an ego? You need an ego to succeed at their level. Junior checked his ego in the locker room and brought the giddy boy out to play-- chasing and catching impossible fly balls, using that beautiful swing to send home runs flying into the stands, running bases with a grin of pure joy on his boyish face.

With Griffey, the M's had wondrous seasons in 1995 and 1997. The Kingdome came down and Safeco Field went up-- a beautiful home for a team much loved by its fans.

When Griffey left Seattle, he did it with class. He did it with style. He didn't do it for the money. He wanted to play where his father played. The fans didn't want him to leave, but they sent him off in style.

And tonight, 8 years later, they welcomed him back in style, at Safeco Field, the "House that Griffey Built."

And even though I bleed Yankee pinstripes, I cried for Ken Griffey, Jr. tonight- and the joy his return brought to Seattle.