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From the archives: New Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.

Posted on July 22, 2016

Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners bats during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California in 1990. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

 

Former Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds great Ken Griffey Jr. will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York on Sunday afternoon. He will be joined by the greatest-hitting catcher of all-time Mike Piazza. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a big league ballplayer, and it will surely be a huge day for Griffey, his family, friends, Mariners, and Reds fans. I will be watching the ceremony on television and remembering back when I started photographing Griffey’s big league career way back in 1990. The “Kid” was hailed as a can’t miss prospect and number 1 pick by the Mariners out of Moeller High in Cincinnati. Being the son of former Red’s World Series champ Ken Griffey Sr. (see below) didn’t hurt his legend. This was a kid who was destined to make it to Cooperstown. It was only a matter of time. I thought it would be fun to take a look through my searchable online archive containing almost 90,000 baseball images dating back to 1987 and see what came back when I typed in “Ken Griffey Jr.” Let’s take a look!

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Ken Griffey Sr. of the Cincinnati Reds bats during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California in 1990. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners bats during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California in 1990. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners signs autographs before a spring training game at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona in 1991. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners signs autographs before a spring training game at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona in 1991. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners leaves the field during a spring training game at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona in 1997. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners bats during a game at the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington in 1996. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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My picture of Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners batting during a game at the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington in 1996 is featured on banners hanging all over Cooperstown, New York this week. (Photo by Milo Stewart Jr. / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Griffey was such a huge star in the 1990’s, and everyone needed great images of him. The problem was he played half his games inside the dark and dingy Kingdome in Seattle, where you could only shoot grainy color negative film. The picture quality was just awful. All of the card companies and magazines needed Griffey photographed on beautiful color slide film, so that meant a day game outside. Since most games are played at night, and we get tons of day games in Oakland, we were always blessed to see the Kid several day games each season since the Mariners made three trips to the Coliseum every season. Let me tell you, a day game with the Mariners in town was a HUGE deal back then. All of us locals would be out there early shooting Griffey taking batting practice (yes they used to take BP on the field before day games) and many of the freelancers from southern California like Rob Leiter, Jon Soohoo, and Mitch Hadad would make the trip up here for just the day. Hard to believe now in the age of big, beautiful digital files, but back then having pristine original chromes of Griffey in good light was gold. Also, better than a dupe anytime was another original so we would all blast the shit out of all his at bats, never being satisfied with “just enough.” In the days of FEDEXING out original chromes for different stock requests you could never have too much raw material, and everyone wanted fresh Junior on chrome.

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners bats during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California in 1996. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners in action during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on September 26, 1996. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners in action during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California in 1997. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners takes batting practice before a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California on June 17, 1997. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners takes batting practice and blows a bubble before a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California on June 17, 1997. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners taking batting practice before a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California on June 17, 1997. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners smiles during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California on June 18, 1997. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners and Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics stand near first base during a game at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, CA on July 15, 1997. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners loosens up in the on deck circle during a spring training game at at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ in March of 1998. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners chases a fly ball in center field during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California in 1999. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners plays defense during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California in 1999. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds bats during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, California in 2000. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds runs the bases during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on May 5, 2004. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. signs autographs during batting practice at the 2004 All Star Game at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas on July 8, 2004. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. bats during the World Baseball Classic game between Canada and USA at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ on March 8, 2006. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. stands on first base next to his father, first base coach Ken Griffey Sr. during the World Baseball Classic game between Canada and USA at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ on March 8, 2006. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds rides in the All Star Game Red Carpet Show with his son Trey before the All Star Game against the American League at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California on July 10, 2007. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at the McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California on June 20, 2007. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Chicago White Sox takes batting practice before the game against the Oakland Athletics at the McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California on August 17, 2008. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics during the game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 27, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners gets ready in the dugout before the game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California on Saturday, April 11, 2009. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

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Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics team photographer Michael Zagaris joke around after the National Anthem before the game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 27, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Griffey is a guy who would have challenged the all-time career home run record. He broke into the big leagues at such a young age and put up huge numbers at a remarkable pace. However, once his career moved to Cincinnati his body started to fail him and he spent way too many days on the disabled list to pile up the big numbers he needed in the later years of his career. It’s too bad because he was so incredible when he was young, but his hamstrings just crippled him with the Reds, and he couldn’t DH in the National League. He finished back in the American League with a few forgettable seasons with the White Sox and Mariners, but all anyone wanted to remember by then was the Kid, and how great he was.

The Kid is who you will see on all the highlights packages this weekend celebrating his Hall of Fame career. He was the rare five-tool player who could do it all. I feel lucky that I was around and on the west coast to document so much of his career. He was a very special player. A Hall of Famer.

What Others Are Saying

  1. David Litschel July 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Brad, Your images are incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Tom Duffy July 23, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    What a sweet series, Brad. Outstanding work- must have been great times shooting him when he was in town.

  3. Brad Mangin July 25, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks so much David! I really appreciate you taking the time to look!

    Brad

  4. Brad Mangin July 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks Tom! Oh man it was so much fun shooting this stuff- especially on film! Thanks for looking!

    Brad

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