Although his son did a little more with his name, the elder Griffey was no slouch on the ball diamond. He eclipsed 1,000 runs scored and 2,100 hits during his career, was a member of two World Champion clubs, made three All-Star teams and with his son, Ken Jr., was the first father-son teammate tandem in Major League history.
Born in the same town as Stan Musial, Griffey was a 29th round selection by the Reds in 1969. Initially called up to Cincinnati in 1973, Ken hit a robust .384 in a 25 game trial. The Reds were a first place team in ’73 and Ken saw some action in the NLCS since outfielders Bobby Tolan and Cesar Geronimo couldn’t hit their weight. The following year skipper Sparky Anderson platooned Ken in right field with Merv Rettenmund before giving Griffey the regular assignment in 1975.
The Big Red Machine was firing on all cylinders in 1975. Ken hit .305 during the regular season. During an NLCS victory over the Pirates, Ken hit .333 with four RBI. The 1975 World Series was one for the ages, as the Reds beat back the Red Sox in seven dramatic games. Griffey led all World Series participants in doubles.
Cincy repeated as World Champs in 1976. Ken was at the top of his game that season, as he bested all Major League outfielders with a lusty .336 batting average. The Big Red Machine churned out runs in great propensity–Ken, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan were the only Major League trio to score in the excess of 100 runs apiece. Dynamite in the NLCS, Ken hit Phillies pitchers at a .385 clip before the Reds made short work of the Yankees in the Fall Classic–sweeping the Bronx Bombers.
An All-Star again in 1977, Ken fashioned his third straight .300 hit season. His 35 doubles were a career high and he finished second in the National League with 117 runs scored. His numbers were more modest in 1978 and in 1979 he missed some action to injury–also missing the NLCS. In 1980, Ken got back on track. Named to his third All-Star team, he and Robin Yount were the only Major Leaguers to post double-digit totals in all the extra base hit departments.
But the Reds were getting old in 1980 and after the strike shortened ’81 season, they traded Ken to the Yankees for two prospects: Freddie Toliver and a fellow that never reached the Bigs. The Yankees moved Ken to first base in 1983 while they conservatively worked a young Don Mattingly into the lineup. He responded with his sixth .300 hit season.
By the mid 1980s, Ken’s batting averages had began to fall and he was shipped to the Braves with Andre Robertson for Claudell Washington and Paul Zuvella. Back in the National League, Ken began slugging like he never had before. After the midseason deal, Ken slugged at a .503 clip for the Braves the rest of the season. Ken’s career slugging average was substantially lower at a modest .431.
In his late 30s, Ken returned to the Reds as a reserve before joining the Seattle Mariners in 1990 at the age of 40. In Seattle, Ken was able to play alongside his son, Junior, as they marked the first time in baseball history that a father shared the same field with his son.
G 2,097/R 1,129/H 2,143/2B 364/3B 77/HR 152/RBI 859/SB 200/BB 719/SO 898/BA .296/SA .431/OBP .359