When Ken Griffey Jr. entered the majors 19 years ago, he was just happy to be getting the chance to play baseball with his father and never dreamed of one day joining one of baseball most elite clubs, the 600 club. Monday night, Griffey made history and became only the 6th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 600 career home runs.
“My father hit 152 home runs, and that’s who I wanted to be like,” said Griffey. He now joins Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660) and Sammy Sosa (609) as the only players to do so.
Griffey belted a hanging curveball from Florida Marlins pitcher Mark Hendrickson in the first inning of the Cincinnati Reds 9-4 victory yesterday at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, FL.
“I was just trying to get a pitch I could hit and be as patient as possible,” Griffey said. “And I was fortunate enough to get a curveball I could drive.”
It took Griffey 19 season, a total 2,439 games and 9042 at bats to reach the milestone. Over his career that averages out to 1 home run every 15 at bats. At the end of the 2008 season, Griffey will become a free agent and has no intentions of retirement.
“I enjoy baseball and as long as I can go out there and help a team win I’ll do it,” he said.
Looking at Griffey’s career stats, one can only wonder where he would be at if he had managed to stay healthy during his first few years with the Reds. From 2001 through the 2004 season, Jr. was constantly on the DL and only played in a total of 317 games out of a possible 728. During that span he still managed to hit 63 home runs at a rate of 1 per every 16 at bats, but missed well over half the games his team played in those 4 years.
It is very likely that later this summer, if he can stay healthy, Griffey will pass Sosa moving him into the 5th spot all-time for career home runs.
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