Ken Leimberger Cathye J Bunthoff Lending a holiday helping hand G’Town Christmas Parade enjoyed by spectators Mt. Orab Auto Mall collects over 1,100 canned goods for local families “Celebration of Lights” held at fairgrounds Thirteen indicted by grand jury Lady Warriors hit the hardwood with high expectations Warriors reload after graduating four starters Six seniors hit the hardwood for Rockets Lady Rockets packed with size, talent Lady G-Men to rely heavily on young talent G-Men seek improvement after last year’s three-win season Skilled crew on the return for the Blue Jays Broncos begin quest for SBAAC American Div. crown Lady Broncos working hard toward SBAAC American Div. title after finishing as league runner-up last season Experienced crew of Lady Jays return to the hardwood Stephen C Foster Mary J Fitzgerald Tyler Hesler Herbert Polley Robert Layton Donald H Layton James T Smith Thomas M Calvert Thomas J Wolfer Cropper coaches way to 500th career victory Ohio’s Deer-Gun Season opens with more than 18,000 deer harvested Lady Broncos face talented Wilmington squad in season opener at Western Brown SHAC teams hit the hardwood for annual Boys Basketball Preview Western’s Leto and Jones excel in sophomore season of XC Lady Rockets open season with victory over Hillsboro Gary P Garrison Rev Larry T Allen Georgetown, Eastern MS honored by state Woodruff updates Chamber of Commerce Operation Christmas Child reaching out overseas G’town Christmas Parade Dec. 3 Ronald E Blessing Sharlee R West June A Goecke Rockets earn OVAL honors Ogden Court dedication set for Dec. 10 Jays host Broncos for OHSAA Foundation Game Ohio’s young hunters harvest nearly 6,000 deer during Youth Gun Season SHAC holds Girls Basketball Preview Foreclosure filed on former Meadowwood Care Facility Ten indicted by Brown County Grand Jury Nature Works Grant funds for new Senior Playground Shop with a Cop looking for donations and support BC Beekeepers Association busy rescuing honey bees Hilda F Steele Ronald L Palmer Bruce E Phillips Elizabeth J Ellison Daniel L Turner Cook inducted into OIAAA Hall of Fame Eastern honors Coach Kiser G-Men, Devils battle it out in OHSAA Foundation Game Jester is OVAL Football Player of the Year Ipad program a success in Georgetown schools Powih sentenced to six years on rape charges Air Evac team to get new headquarters building in Georgetown Four sentenced in Brown County Common Pleas Court Homer C Eldridge Dennis D Johnson SBAAC First Team soccer all-stars take home awards Ohio’s Deer-gun hunting season quickly approaching League champ Lady Broncos recognized at fall sports banquet SBAAC awards First Team football all-stars, league champion teams Irene D Thurman County GOP sweeps at ballot box Landfill project to provide electricity Three indicted by County Grand Jury BREAKING ELECTION NEWS Wanda L Nixon Ella A Moon David Rogers Joanna W Carter Ann L Yeary Tony Gacek Rigdon finishes 3rd in Pickerington Div. III Regional Meet, advances to OHSAA XC State Tournament Week 10 football roundup Linkous named SBAAC American Division Soccer Player of the Year SHAC awards boys golf all-stars, winning teams Donald L Bauer Andrew W Brown Early voting still going strong at Election Board Tree ordinance brings more questions at G’Town Council Steele named new mayor in R’ville ABCAP’s Reproductive Center receives $2,000 from Jaymie Jamison Foundation Robert E Bailey Myrtle L Stiltner Etta M Mays Kathleen A Holden Eastern XC teams head to Regional Meet A season to remember Lady Warriors finish runner-up in SHAC Div. I Lady Broncos finish season 10-8-1
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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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