Two weeks ago, our sports guys asked me to interview Ken Griffey, Senior for them. He was doing interviews live via satellite to talk about the MLB All Star Game, as well as his battle with prostate cancer. I love interviewing people. Scratch that. I love talking to people, period. I just love learning about their lives; their likes and dislikes; whom they admire. The list goes on.
But I digress.
On this morning, I had 5 minutes to chat with Ken Griffey, Senior about prostate cancer, his baseball career and his son Junior, who, along with his dad, holds a special place in the hearts of Mariners fans. Tall order for a 5 minute satellite window. And I had every intention of zipping through the interview and then getting back to my real job – managing a 4 and a half hour morning newscast.
Anyone who’s ever chatted with me knows that I run off on a lot of tangents. A LOT. You might say something that sends me off in a completely different direction, before eventually circling back to the matter at hand.
Well, let’s just say, that happened. I said “Hi, thank you soooo much for taking time to chat with us.” He smiled a trademark, 1000 watt Griffey smile and said, “No problem, happy to be here with you.” And I found myself telling him that I was most interested in hearing about his battle with prostate cancer because my own dad was fighting his own battle with the same illness. The first thing he said to me (in his warm, reassuring voice) was, “He’ll be okay. He’s getting treatment. Prostate cancer is so treatable and the doctors will take care of him.”
Cue the tissues. I had to pinch myself, HARD, to keep the tears from running down my face. I still had 4 minutes and 40 seconds left in this window and many questions to ask on behalf of Paul Silvi and the guys in Sports. I couldn’t let them down. So… off we went.
By the end of that 5 minute satellite window, I had gotten some great memories from him of his time under the lights at the Kingdome. He shared his favorite Mariners moment alongside his son (if anyone even NEEDS to ask, it’s the back to back homeruns they hit in 1990). I thanked him for the interview. He thanked me for nice questions. And it should have ended there.
Fast-forward two weeks. I stumbled into the newsroom at 2:20am laden with boxes of hot Starbucks coffee, cakes and donuts (we have treats every Friday. We call it “Coffee Friday”. Very original, I know). After setting up the sweets buffet, I checked my mail and found an 8”x11” envelope addressed to me. Inside were two photos of Ken Griffey, Sr. in the middle of a trademark Griffey swing. The first was autographed to me (with my name spelled correctly). The second was not personalized. The note accompanying it was short and sweet. “Thinking of your dad and sending him my best wishes. “
Some of you may have read that last paragraph and thought, “That’s IT? THAT’s what she thinks is so thoughtful?”
YES. Yes, it is.
This man talked to dozens of people in the course of that one day. And for him to take time to send me that note and the photos, speaks volumes about his character. I’ve always respected Ken Griffey, Senior; if not for his own play, then for the son he helped bring into the world. But on Friday, July 24, Ken Griffey, Senior became one of my favorite people, hands down.
I will cherish the photo he sent me. I’m picking out a frame for it today and will add it to my hockey wall in my office; the only non-hockey related item up there (aside from an autographed poster from Henry Rollins). I will send the other photo to my dad and tell him the story behind it. I know he’ll be touched, but I also know he’ll have a good laugh about the fact that he has a photo from a Cincinnati Red. My dad is a Dodgers fan, hailing back to their days in Brooklyn.
But there is one thing Dad and Ken Griffey, Senior have in common. He’s doing well in his battle against prostate cancer, too.
And that’s worth more than all the autographed baseball pictures in the world.