EHS dedicates ‘Kiser Court’ SBAAC awards First Team football all-stars, winning teams Sizer earns SBAAC American Division Volleyball Player of Year honors for 3rd straight year Broncos to host Blue Jays for OHSAA ‘Jimmy Young’ Foundation Game, Nov. 17 Vern W Kidd Jr Brown County Election Results – 2017 Michael D Hines Raymond W Napier Leslie E Boyle Gary L Barber RULH NHS welcomes new inductees K-9 Units and handlers visit RULH High School EMS members honored for service Road work on Ripley streets to begin Russell K Wolfer SHAC recognizes volleyball all-stars SHAC cross country all-stars take home awards Eastern girls finish runner-up in SHAC golf standings Week 10 football roundup Kathleen J Bright Sister Marjean Clement Veterans Service Office Moves RULH MS students hold first Science Club meeting Bald Eagles spotted 2017 Celebration of Lights being planned Carlos L Beck Georgetown XC teams qualify for regional championship meet Warriors advance to Div. II Regional Meet Lady Rockets reach end to successful volleyball season Week nine football roundup Lady Warriors regional bound Amy J Caudill Bertha Lindsey Bobby S Conley Ripley Council considers insurance changes, will be making repairs on Rankin Hill Road PRC Walk for Life raises $4,600 Mary E Hahn Gary R Cornette Week 8 football roundup Notable soccer season reaches end for G-Men Lady Broncos are SBAAC American Division XC champs SHAC XC title goes to Lady Warriors Arthur Smith Eugene M Jennings Jr Billy R Kilgore Sr Carol D Roberts Thelma L Gray Ripley FFA off to a busy start this year Ripley River Village Christmas adds new events Man found dead in ditch Rev Alvin B Woodruff Jackson L Russell Lady Broncos bring home 11th SBAAC American Division title in 12 years Lady Rockets wrap up regular season Warriors rally for win Broncos make it two in a row Helen L Whalen Veterans saluted at the Brown County Fair Prints available of Eagle Creek Bridge, by local artist Tommy J Stamper Sue Day Broncos move closer to SBAAC American Division title Lady G-Men working hard, showing improvement Sports complex soon to open in Mt. Orab Week 6 football roundup H Ray Warnock Ripley McDonalds robbed overnight Familiar pizzeria in Ripley has new owners Linda Taylor Rene Sizemore-Dahlheimer Eugene Snider Eric Workman Gregory Terry Edith M Moore Eileen Womacks Michael C Jennings Janice K Brunner Cheer squads compete at ‘Little State Fair’ Truck, tractor pulls draw a crowd at Brown County Fair Week 5 football roundup Lady Broncos rise to 11-6 with win over Batavia Broncos buck Clinton-Massie, Goshen James H Boyd Warren A Stanley Jane R Ernst Darrell F Anderson James W Ball Jr June R Paul Robert Kattine Tony W Ratliff Carroll G Boothby Ripley Council addresses roof replacement and paving projects Beasley Farm to remain agricultural forever Janet R Whitt Jacqualine Attinger L Mae Spencer Battle between Broncos, G-Men ends in tie SB Warriors rout Peebles, 60-0 Lady Jays celebrate first victory Lady Rockets on a roll

Griffey Jr.’s induction worth waiting for

Lost in the fallout from the boxing match on turf that was the Bengals-Steelers playoff game was an important piece of news for Cincinnati Reds fans who grew up idolizing a certain outfielder.

Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame earlier this month, good news for a city that is still dealing with the national fallout from the aforementioned playoff “game.”

In the time since his election, Griffey Jr. has stated that he will don a Mariners hat in his Hall-of-Fame plaque, and that makes perfect sense. Just a simple trip over to Baseball Reference makes that obvious, as Jr.’s batting average with the Mariners was 22 points higher than it was during his oft-injured tenure with the Reds.

That tenure had a rather profound impact on me personally. I wasn’t much of a baseball fan prior to Griffey’s arrival, but I knew enough about the game to know how great a player he was. Whenever I booted up the ol’ PlayStation (the original grey one that was about as energy efficient trying to use a hamster to power a city), I made sure that immediately after I started Triple Play ‘98 I would go into the roster editing section and trade Griffey Jr. to the Reds. Putting him in a lineup with Barry Larkin and Deion Sanders would’ve created a baseball juggernaut had I known anything about the art of pitching. Apparently, throwing fastballs right down the middle of the plate to speed things up so I can get back to hitting isn’t an optimal strategy.

Anyway, the point is I would always trade Griffey to the Reds and when that actually happened I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that the Reds had just acquired arguably the best player of the decade. At the time, players like that didn’t play in Cincinnati. Sure, Barry Larkin was a great player in his own right, but unfortunately I never really got to appreciate Larkin until just before he retired.

Griffey Jr. was different. Even though I didn’t watch too many games or consider myself a baseball fan, I knew how special he was and what the addition of him could do to the Reds. Unfortunately, none of that was to be. Griffey Jr.’s injuries have been documented all over the place and even if you don’t understand the medical terms, it’s not hard to figure out that they robbed Cincinnati of a chance to watch one of the greatest players in MLB history grow into his prime.

Arguably the most fitting thing about Griffey Jr.’s career is how it ended: quietly. There was no year-long goodbye tour or weird retirement gifts. When Mariano Rivera retired, the Tampa Bay Rays gave him a gigantic statue of himself made out of sand. What exactly is he going to do with that? To be fair, the Minnesota Twins gave Rivera a chair made out of bats he broke, so I suppose it balances out.

Regardless, neither of those things happened. Griffey Jr. retired his way, on June 3, 2010 just before the Mariners were to take on the Twins. Prior to the season, Junior had said he would retire if he ever felt he was becoming a distraction, and sure enough he called it quits right there. His last base-hit was also fitting, as it was a walk-off single a few weeks prior.

There were still some fantastic moments during Griffey Jr.’s tenure with the Reds. The milestone home runs, always seeming to fall around Father’s Day, leap to mind. Yet, my personal favorite memory of Griffey Jr. was him leaping for joy at first base as Adam Dunn hit a walk-off grand slam to beat the Indians. When I went back and looked for footage of that home run, I discovered the player in question was not Jr. at all, but in fact Felipe Lopez.

My apparently shaky memory aside, that’s the Griffey Jr. I’m going to remember. I’m not going to remember the trips to the disabled list, the trade that eventually sent him out of Cincinnati and to the Chicago White Sox, or any of that. I’m going to remember a player who could change the entire complexion of a baseball game with one swing of a bat or one leap in the outfield. I’m going to remember the player who made wearing a hat backwards seem like a cool thing to do. I’m going to remember the player who stayed clean in an era that made it difficult to do so.

I’m also going to remember the walk-off home run he hit to win the World Series for my imaginary Reds the first time I played through a season of Triple Play ‘98. It’s a shame he never had a chance to do that during his actual career.

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By Garth Shanklin

gshanklin@civitasmedia.com

Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter at @GNDShanklin.

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