Today, Ken Griffey Jr. celebrates his 48th birthday. That's right -- "The Kid," as he was called when he was a flashy, power-hitting outfielder for the Seattle Mariners and one of baseball's premier talents in the 1990s -- is no longer a "Kid."
But when he was ... oh man, could he do things on the field. You know all about the homers (predicated by his first, an impressive opposite-field blast at the Kingdome), the awe-inspiring catches and the flair that made him such a star. After all, those feats (and a cumulative WAR of 83.6 earned over the course of his 22-year career) earned him a spot in Cooperstown in 2016.
Lost in all the other highlight reel moments, however, are the truly ridiculous. The clip seen atop this post is one of those. With Seattle battling the Rangers in Arlington in 1994, Ivan Rodriguez laced a single to the left-center field gap. Griffey ranged over, but the ball took a tricky hop and tried sailing past him -- somehow he snared it with a leaping, barehanded grab, tumbled to the grass and still fired to second with more than enough time to retire Pudge, who was trying for a double:
There's commitment to the moment, and then there's that. Plus, some stellar thinking-on-your-feet.
Since they played on division rivals for so long, Griffey and Rodriguez had plenty of opportunities for highlight moments against one another throughout their careers. Here's one from '92, when Pudge got the upper hand, nailing Griffey on a stolen-base attempt:
More than a decade after both of those on-field moments, the pair found themselves caught up in another scene. It was the 2007 All-Star Game at AT&T Park, with Griffey on the Reds and Rodriguez with the Tigers. He laced a single toward Griffey, who fielded the ball cleanly and fired home ... to retire an unsuspecting Alex Rodriguez at the plate:
That's a lot of star power in one clip.
But then again, Griffey provided plenty of star power in any context just by being himself.
Happy 48th, Junior.