Ken Griffey Jr. Announces Retirement
FanHouse was first to report the news of his retirement, and the future Hall of Famer announced his decision officially in a formal statement Wednesday night
Sources said that Griffey, who didn't report to Safeco Field for the Mariners' game against the Minnesota Twins Wednesday, was saying "it's over'' this afternoon.
"This has been on my mind recently, but it's not an easy decision to come by. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have played Major League Baseball for so long and thankful for all of the friendships I have made, while also being proud of my accomplishments," Griffey said in a statement. "I'd like to thank my family for all of the sacrifices they have made all of these years for me. I'd like to thank the Seattle Mariners organization for allowing me to finish my playing career where it started."
Griffey, the man who more than any other helped build the Mariners into a viable franchise as the premier center fielder of the the 1990s, played for Seattle from 1989-1999 and came back again in 2009 where he helped revitalized the franchise.
"Ken is truly the heart of soul of this franchise," said team president Chuck Armstrong. "Without his contributions there is little doubt that Safeco Field would not exist and, almost certainly, baseball would have left the Northwest."
"This is a sad day for the Mariners. It is rare in this game when you get an opportunity to reunite a player and a team. We feel honored that Ken was able to end his career where it began, here in Seattle," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement.
But he hasn't been able to duplicate that success in his second go-around with Seattle and he's gotten increasingly less playing time in 2010. He's only had seven at-bats since May 18 as Mike Sweeney has become increasingly more productive as the Mariners' designated hitter.
Griffey cited his declining playing time as a motivating factor behind his decision.
"While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field, and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back, that I will never allow myself to become a distraction," he said. "I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates, and their success as team is what the ultimate goal should be."
The future Hall of Famer was at the center of a controversy earlier this season when a local paper reported that he was asleep in the clubhouse during a game when manager Don Wakamatsu wanted to use him as a pinch-hitter. The controversy has since blown over, and it will do little to shade Griffey's legacy.
With 630 career home runs, Junior retires as the active leader in home runs and is one of only six players in major league history to hit more than 600 homers. Alex Rodriguez, Griffey's former teammate in Seattle, takes over the active lead with 590 home runs.