It was seemingly a lifetime ago that I sat down with a 19-year-old baseball sensation…they called, ‘The Kid!’  It was one of  Ken Griffey Junior’s early interviews in Seattle and I was the lucky Kiro news reporter to get the assignment.

I was already very familiar with Griffey’s story…his gifted athletic ability…his father’s legacy. I had been following him since his high school days in Cincinnati. The headline read, ‘It’s Griffey Time!’ ~ And time would quickly tell…there was indeed…something truly special about this one.

We sat in his Seattle Condo with a view….Newly furnished, thanks to his mom, who was looking on. He was after all, still, just a kid. But for a kid, they dubbed baseball’s second coming and Seattle’s savior, Junior was surprisingly unassuming, even soft spoken, about all of the hype. He just wanted to play the game he loved…the game of baseball.

And play, he did! Seattle and baseball were in for quite a ride… He announced himself early…sending one out, his first Major League at bat! I think Sports Illustrated got it right, when they put him on the cover, with that signature swing for the fences and called him, ‘The Natural.’

Ken Griffey Junior simply had a gift, at the plate and in centerfield…he made the impossible look easy.  The ball park wasn’t just Junior’s playground….He owned it. That’s where ‘The Kid’ was ‘The Man.’

From that first interview on…Griffey was nothing short of gracious…always making time or a wave or sharing that winning smile.

A subsequent interview at his East-side home, revealed rooms filled not with fancy furniture but arcade games and garages filled with fancy cars…but Griffey preferred his truck. The kid was still, a kid, at heart.

Griffey reminisced about going to the big league park with his dad, Ken Griffey Senior…how he and his brother would run the bases…and how his mom would have to re-wash their uniforms so they could later play, in their own games. He talked about wanting to start a family early, so he could be a young dad just like his father. Today he says he’s just a dad with a cool job!

Time passed…I cried when they announced he was heading to Cincinnati…How could Seattle let him get away… but I understood HIS reasons. He was only ours, for a time.

Second chances ~ The rumors had been swirling…When the crawl ran across the Tv Screen announcing junior’s return to Seattle… I cheered.

And now, here we are… Ken Griffey Junior announcing his retirement….My heart hurts, there is a void… but mostly… I am grateful. What a legacy Junior has left us, collectively and me, personally. I will always remember the day I first met, ‘The Kid’… ‘The Man’… ‘The Natural.’

Thank you Junior! It was an honor.