ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) -- Ken Griffey Jr. hit 630 home runs in his 22-year career, but he saved his best home run for the fans at Busch Stadium in 2004.
A week had gone by since Griffey Jr. had hit a home run and there was no better time and place for him to hit his next one -- Father’s Day. Busch Stadium. No. 500.
After being congratulated by his teammates at home plate, Junior made his way over to his father, who was seated next to the Reds dugout, to embrace him and simply say “Happy Father’s Day.” It was a gesture that sent chills down the spine of the already-standing crowd that had been applauding Junior’s major accomplishment.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance with my family as we were celebrating Father’s Day in the best way anyone can -- at a baseball game -- and as a then 16-year-old know-it-all, it honestly made me appreciate my father more than I already did. The happiness Senior had when Junior smacked the 393-foot home run off Matt Morris was likely the same happiness my father had when I brought home an ‘A’ on my report card (just like 500 home runs, it was a rare accomplishment).
You could see in the face of the elder Griffey the amount of joy that he had for his son who became the 20th player to join the 500-plus club. After the game, Junior noted that he never thought about 500 home runs because he just wanted to be like his dad who had only 152 in his career.
Of course behind every great father is an awesome woman. That day Junior’s mother told him he was going to hit No. 500 because he ‘always hit home runs on his father’s birthday and things like that.’ It left the younger Griffey to say ‘my first reaction was that my mom is always right.’ So I guess it is fair to assume that the women are in control even on Father’s Day.
To all of the fathers out there, especially Mark Bierman, Happy Father’s Day!