An excellent athlete, Ken Griffey played 19 seasons in the big leagues, long enough to be a teammate of his son. The pair became the first father/son to each hit home runs in the same game as teammates.
Long before he was a 40-year old†bench player for the Mariners, helping to mentor Ken Griffey Jr. up close and personal in the major leagues, Ken Sr. was a speedy line-drive hitter and one of “The Great Eight” on the famed Big Red Machine. That team won four pennants in the 1970s and Griffey was the starting right fielder on two of those teams, earning three All-Star selections.
The Reds were one of the most well-rounded offensive teams in baseball history: just as capable of stealing runs through aggressive baserunning as they were to hit a home run. Griffey was the fastest runner on a fast team, and he stole 50 bases in 1975-76 when the Reds won back-to-back titles.
In 1976 he battled Bill Madlock for the batting title down to the final day of the season, ultimately finishing second with a .336 mark, his career high. In his first stint with the Reds, which lasted from his debut in 1973 through 1981, Griffey batted .307. He signed a high-priced free agent contract with the Yankees when they were making an effort to build an offense around speed, then went on to Atlanta, where he took advantage of that ballpark to hit for more power, and then back to the Reds for a few years. Finally he spent two seasons with the Mariners, watching his son mature into a superstar.
- The members of “The Great Eight” on the Big Red Machine were: catcher Johnny Bench, first baseman Tony Perez, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Dave Concepcion, third baseman Pete Rose, left fielder George Foster, center fielder Cesar Geronimo, and right†fielder Ken Griffey. Four of them won an MVP award (combining for six awards in all), they combined for 24 Gold Glove Awards, won four home run titles, six RBI crowns, and made a collective 57 All-Star Games. Six of the eight players had at least 2,000 hits in their careers, and another (Foster) had 1,925.