I’m a closet baseball fan. I say this because I’m a Seattle Mariners fan. Unfortunately, being a Mariners fan has mostly meant disappointment over the years. They’ve made the playoffs a few times, but aside from the miracle/disaster 116-win season in 2001, there really hasn’t been much hope of winning the World Series in Seattle.
At the same time that it’s been tough to be a Mariners fan, I was also fortunate to be developing my sports loyalties right when Ken Griffey Jr. joined the team. These days, most people don’t give much thought to Griffey, but when he joined the league, he was “The Kid”. A boy wonder with the perfect swing, amazing defensive capabilities (the picture below is of an amazing catch he made that resulted in him breaking his wrist) and a charming personality; he took Seattle and the baseball world by storm in the 90′s.
I’ve come to realize over time that I don’t really idolize anyone. I admire people, I seek to learn from them and emulate some of their characteristics, but I really don’t idolize anyone. That was different when I was a kid though.
Ken Griffey Jr. was my first and maybe only idol. I can remember playing out in the backyard with my friend Lane, pretending we were Griffey, roaming center field, stealing home runs from hitters. Time after time, we’d throw the ball towards the other one, putting it out of reach to make the other dive for the ball. Every time we managed to pull it off, the we’d mimic the announcer’s voice, soaked in amazement at the feat he’d just witnessed. We did this every summer for years. It was definitely some of the most fun I had at that age.
(Of course, to our parents inside the house, they’d just see their idiot kid running and diving full body onto the grass, ruining clothes, elbows and knees… kind of a funny juxtaposition)
This weekend, Griffey returns as a Red, to play in Seattle for the first time since he left. It’s been written up a lot in the the Seattle Times and they do a great job of describing what he meant to the city and why this weekend is kind of special, so I’ve included the links below. I have to admit, I’m a little sad I’m not up there to witness it myself.
So, here’s a question for you all: who was your first idol and why?