Michael D Karos Jr John H Kirk Janet R Meyer Patsy A Clark Dorothy J Schroeder Broncos trample the G-Men, 73-40 Rockets down the Devils, 59-55 Seven new inductees to enter WBHS Sports Hall of Fame Lady Warriors ascend to 13-1 Broncos finish 2nd of 22 teams in Hammer and Anvil Invitational Hedwig Lambert Billie G Walkup Some county offices may be moved G’town Council approves 2017 budget Family doubles in size with adoption Sardinia Mayor looks forward to 2017 2017 Fayetteville Firemen’s Festival set Floyd Newberry Jr Donna F Lang Gene Warren Dwight L Fulton Virginia A O’Neil Anne L Durbin-Thomas Marietta Dunn Charles L Latchford Broncos win ‘Battle of 32’ Lady Broncos claim win over Bethel-Tate Jays top Warriors, fall to Mustangs Lady Warriors claim top spot in SHAC with win over Lynchburg-Clay Broncos buck the Lions, 54-51 James N DeHaas Questions still linger in Stuart explosion New direction for Brittany Stykes case New public safety director now on duty in Brown Co. Fayetteville Mayor anticipates a good year for the village Chamber of Commerce announces awardees Robert Bechdolt Carl E Lindsey Audrey F Maher LeJeune Howser Tammy L Connor Henry C Mayhall Jr Chad Spilker Frank W Kemmeter Jr Wanda J Howard Dorothy Huff Colon C Malott Eastern varsity teams come out on top to capture Brown County Holiday Classic crowns WBHS Army JROTC hosts rifle shooting competition Bronco varsity wrestling team unbeaten at 8-0 Blue Jays finish 1-1 in Ripley Pepsi Classic Mona G Van Vooren Hiram Beardsworth Avery W McCleese Ethel E Long Children learn safety from ‘Officer Phil’ Microchips can help locate lost pets Local GOP plans trip to Washington Three sentenced in common pleas Estel Earhart Roy Stewart Tenacious ‘D’ leads Lady Jays to victory over Blanchester on day one of Ripley Pepsi Classic Fayetteville’s Thompson, Jester earn SWOFCA All-City honors Jays fall to Blanchester on first day of Pepsi Classic Ticket details announced for OHSAA basketball and wrestling state tournaments Jerri K McKenzie Randy D Vaughn Georgetown JR/SR high to have new library Georgetown saw many improvements in 2016 Three sentenced in common pleas court Esther O Brown G-Men go on scoring rampage for 77-41 win over Cardinals Warriors climb to 4-2 with wins over West Union, Lynchburg Rockets top Whiteoak for first win Shirley M Bray Carter Lumber closes in G’town Wenstrup looks forward to 2017 Seven indicted by county grand jury John Ruthven holds pre-Christmas Open House New pet boarding facility now open in Georgetown Denver W Emmons Carl W Liebig Mary L McKinley Blake C Roush Louis A Koewler William D Cornetet Western Brown dedicates Perry Ogden Court Lady Warrior win streak hits 5 Lady Rockets wrap up tough week on the hardwood Barons rally for win over Broncos Georgetown to hire two paid Firefighter/EMT’s Noble receives statewide law enforcement award County helps family in need after house fire Flashing signs banned in G’town historic district ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ at Gaslight Thelma L Ernst Roy L Bruce Ken Leimberger Cathye J Bunthoff Lending a holiday helping hand

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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2016 News Democrat