Top 10 Ken Griffey Jr. moments in Seattle

For 11 seasons from 1989-1999, and then another in 2009 (we’ll just pretend 2010 never happened), Mariners fans could consider themselves lucky that they had a daily chance at seeing Ken Griffey Jr. do something incredible. Griffey was one of those rare players of whom you never wanted to miss an at-bat, or an inning in the field, at the risk of failing to see the play that everyone would be talking about the next morning.

As The Kid enters the Baseball Hall of Fame, we take a look back at the Griffey's top-10 Seattle moments, in ascending order.

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#10: The Debut

April 10, 1989

Griffey didn’t make Seattle fans wait long to see what all the fuss was about, smashing the first pitch he saw at the Kingdome on April 10, 1989 for a home run off Eric King of the Chicago White Sox.

Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

#9: The Return

Feb. 19, 2009

When Griffey returned to the Mariners in 2009, many worried that it might tarnish the legacy created in his first go-round with the team. Griffey, though, quickly eased those worries when he hit a home run at Minnesota on opening day to tie Frank Robinson for the most opening-day home runs in major-league history (if only that had been his last opening day with the Mariners).

Photo by Jeffrey Thompson

#8: The Opening Day Bash

April 8, 1997

As noted above, Griffey liked opening days, and he began his greatest season as a Mariner in 1997 with two home runs off David Cone of the Yankees on his way to 56 for the year and a unanimous MVP award.

Photo by Loren Callahan

#7: The Visit

June 24, 2007

We’re going to slightly cheat and put one Cincinnati moment on this list — Griffey’s return to Seattle with the Reds for an interleague series in 2007. Griffey admitted he was a little nervous about the reception he’d get. He shouldn’t have been as he was wildly cheered at every turn and responded with a turn-back-the-clock performance when he hit two home runs in the last game of the series on June 24, 2007.

Photo by Elaine Thompson

#6: The Kingdome Finale

June 27, 1999

Griffey was the first player to really make the Kingdome come alive as a baseball stadium, and he did little to hide his sadness at seeing it go away. He bid it a fitting farewell, making a highlight-reel catch to rob Juan Gonzalez of a home run, and hitting home run in the last game ever played in the Kingdome (also the last home run hit there) as the Mariners beat the Texas Rangers on June 27, 1999.

Photo by Lauren Mcfalls

#5: The Catch

April 26, 1990

It’s hard to pick a top defensive gem. But if forced to we’ll go with another early defining moment — his leap over the wall at Yankee Stadium to rob Jesse Barfield of a home run on April 26, 1990. Just as memorable was his wide smile and mad dash with the ball into the dugout, a display of exuberance that defined his early years as “The Kid.”

Photo by Kathy Kmonicek

#4: The Ignitor

Aug. 24, 1995

There were only 17,592 at the Kingdome on a sleepy Aug. 24 afternoon to see what proved to be the beginning of the team’s magical run to the 1995 ALCS, a comeback 9-7 win over the Yankees clinched when Griffey hit a two-run walk-off homer off John Wetteland. It was the first walk-off homer of Griffey’s career and sparked the rally that saw Seattle overtake the Angels in the West.

Photo by Greg Gilbert

#3: The Streak

July, 1993

In Lou Piniella’s first year as manager in 1993, one of the first signs of the baseball turnaround in Seattle came when the city became gripped by Griffey’s streak of hitting home runs in eight straight games, tying the major-league record. Somewhat forgotten today is that the streak ended on July 29 in a game in which Griffey hit a double off the wall, narrowly missing breaking the record.

Photo by Betty Udesen

#2: The Back-to-Back Griffey Jacks

Sept. 14, 1990

In a feat that may never be duplicated, Griffey and his father, Ken, hit home runs on consecutive at-bats in the first inning of a game against the Angels in Anaheim on Sept. 14, 1990 against pitcher Kirk McCaskill.

Photo by Craig Fujii

#1: The Slide

Oct. 8, 1995

For all of Griffey’s majestic home runs and circus catches, it’s a mad dash around the bases to score the winning run in the 1995 Division Series against the Yankees that stands as the most unforgettable play of his career — and Mariner history.

In Dave Niehaus’ famous call of the play, he notes that third-base coach Sam Perlozzo (though unnamed by Niehaus) is waving Griffey in. Not that Griffey would have stopped, but if he had, it might have been left to a rookie named Alex Rodriguez, who was waiting on deck, to drive him in. That the play instead is remembered as the greatest moment for maybe the two greatest Mariners of all time — Edgar Martinez and Griffey — makes it a rare Mariner moment that turned out, and remains, perfect.

Photo by Elaine Thompson

#11: Bonus: A Mariners' legend

Aug. 10, 2013

We'll add a bonus moment, just because Ken Griffey Jr. deserves an extra highlight. In August 2013, Griffey became the seventh player inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame, and offered up a Hall of Fame-worthy speech to a sellout at Safeco Field. Griffey is on this year's MLB Hall of Fame ballot, which will be revealed Jan. 6.

Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times