By CURTIS CRABTREE, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Ken Griffey Jr. is captured in full follow through from his swing, gazing toward an unseen baseball.
It’s a pose he struck many times during his Hall of Fame career, and it’s the way he’s been immortalized in bronze outside Safeco Field.
The Seattle Mariners on Thursday unveiled the statue of Griffey, the most recent way they’ve honored one of the franchise’s greatest players.
“One of the things I’m known for is my swing and I think it was pretty much going to be a given (that would be the pose),” Griffey said during the unveiling ceremony. “They pretty much nailed it. It was overwhelming to see something like that.”
The 7-foot-tall statue stands on top of a 4-foot granite base. It includes a Mariners 20th anniversary patch and a patch recognizing the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Griffey helped lead the charge toward all major leaguers wearing Robinson’s No. 42 each year in recognition of Robinson’s trailblazing career.
The statue was sculpted by Lou Cella, who also created a statue of former Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus that sits on the right field concourse of the stadium.
Griffey became the first Mariners player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame last year. The Mariners officially retired his No. 24 in August, making him the first player to have his number retired by the franchise.
“When people do things for you, you have to show your appreciation,” Griffey said. “Seattle has gone over and above my expectations of an organization. It’s been a whirlwind for 18 months — January of last year to even now — it’s hard to describe. I just try to sit back and not do anything because I don’t want to mess it up.”
Griffey played 22 big-league seasons with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox. A 13-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, Griffey hit 630 home runs, sixth all-time, and drove in 1,836 runs. He also was the American League MVP in 1997, drove in at least 100 runs in eight seasons, and won seven Silver Slugger Awards.
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