|The 1994 Jacksonville Suns|
Ken Griffey Jr., who followed him to the podium, cried early and often during his address. In the audience, Ken Griffey Sr. wept openly while his elder son talked about a lifetime lived among big league ballplayers, first surrounded by his father's teammates on the mid-1970s Cincinnati Reds team known as the Big Red Machine and later with the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, then in his own right.
One person who the camera did not catch crying, even as his more famous brother acknowledged him, was Craig Griffey, a 42nd round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners who never made it to the big leagues.
Genetics can be capricious and cruel. For every Joe, Dom and Vince DiMaggio, or Ken and Bob Forsch or Phil and Joe Niekro, baseball history is replete with would-be rival siblings, only one of whom was kissed by that biochemical fate that makes somebody a star.
If the question about Ken Griffey Jr. was ever nature or nurture, clearly nature has the edge as Craig Griffey -- less than two years the younger -- likely had many of the same experiences and exposures.
|The numbers of late August|
By happenstance I saw him play for the Jacksonville Suns at the end of August 1994, as the Major League Baseball strike consumed the balance of the big league season. Also watching from the stands that day, then-Mariners manager Lou Piniella. On a team that included future Seattle pitcher Derek Lowe, catcher Chris Widger and other prospects, Griffey-the-younger was hitting an inconspicuous .224.
Still, he was a professional ballplayer, which is more than most of us can say. It's certainly more than I could say.
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