Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pack Thirty-Five

Pack 35 +12
123 Kevin Seitzer
435 Tony Pena
230 Scott Fletcher
220 Ken Griffey, Jr.
444 Tom Brunansky
253 Fred McGriff
158 Gary Gaetti
383 Kevin Elster
405 Juan Samuel
217 Darnell Coles
204 Tom Niedenfuer
267 Tom Glavine

This is a nice way to wind the box down. No doubles. I hope the final pack is the same. I had my share of frustrations with my '88 Score box, but the only real let down was the final pack.

The blocks of doubles have certainly been frustrating in this box, but there haven't been any of those major let downs, so all in all, I'm going to say of the four old boxes that I've opened since I got back into the hobby last summer this one has been the most fun.

Now I realize that my feelings could change completely tomorrow upon opening the final pack, so maybe I should have saved this speech. Oh well.

This is a pretty good pack. Fred McGriff has always been among my favorite players, and there's a very young Tom Glavine. But we're going to focus on the rookie of this pack. I don't know if anyone's ever heard of this kid, but he had a pretty good career for himself, and he even started off the 2009 campaign with a bang.

Ken Griffey, Jr. was the first pick of the 1987 draft by the Seattle Mariners and made his professional debut at Bellingham, where his 14 home runs led the team. 1988 saw a promotion to High-A San Bernardino and then to Double-A Vermont, as the back of the card tells us.

On April 3, 1989 Junior made his Major League debut going one for three with a walk. His first big league homer came a week later off of White Sox pitcher Eric King.

His 1989 performance was good enough for third place in the Rookie of the Year voting. Gregg Olson won for his 1.69 ERA and 27 saves.

Injuries have slowed Griffey down considerably over the past decade and his once brilliant outfield play has become somewhat of a liability (his last Gold Glove came in 1999), but he's still a threat in the DH role.

It would have been nice to see him in a Braves uniform and the way things are going in the outfield right now, his inability to run out some flyballs probably wouldn't make much of a difference, but in the end I'm glad to see him back in Seattle. Even if it is for just one or two more years, it'll give him a chance to end his career where it all started, and as much as I hate the DH rule, it'll give a great player a little more time to shine.

In the end, Ken Griffey is arguably the greatest pure hitter of his generation. When all is said and done, and the time comes to look hard at the steroid era, Griffey, Manny Ramirez and Chipper Jones will come out on top as the greatest pure, clean hitters of their time.

Griffey is without a doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer. There's really no point in putting his name on the ballot, just make a bronze bust and put it in its place. They might as well do it now. If Greg Maddux isn't the first to get 100% of HoF votes (and I'm pretty sure he will be), Griffey certainly will be.

There aren't enough good words to describe Griffey's career and what he has meant to baseball. When I think back to 1994 and the strike, I'm always reminded of a picture of a young Griffey on the cover of Newsweek magazine with a broken back and a sad expression. He had helped to revitalize baseball before the strike, and he certainly did his part after the strke.

I was beginning to worry that this box had been searched for this card because a few (no more than four or five) of the packs were no longer sealed and a few looked like they'd been resealed. But I guess 20 years doesn't do much for the seal on wax paper.

A little part of me wishes I'd grabbed the other pack first. This one would have been a great way to end it. But we'll see what tomorrow brings.


Andy said...

I love this set, love this blog, and love this post, but cannot agree about Griffey being the best pure hitter of his generation. Best power-hitter PERHAPS although even that is debatable.