TORONTO -- Vernon Wells didn't watch a lot of baseball growing up, but there was always one player for which he would make an exception -- Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey, who announced his retirement prior to the Mariners' 2-1 win over the Twins on Wednesday, is more than likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and in Wells' eyes, one of the best all-around players in baseball history.
"He's a five-tool guy," Wells said. "[He's] possibly the best there was at doing everything on the baseball field, and doing it with ease. Just growing up and watching him play, he was kind of the guy that when you're a kid you want to be like."
Wells recalls just how starstruck he was the first time he met Griffey.
"I got called up in 1999," Wells said. "I think it was the first year Safeco [Field] was open. I remember jogging out to the outfield and he was jogging in, and he stopped and talked to me right in the middle of the field. It's a moment that I obviously still remember now, and I'll never forget it."
While Wells and Griffey talk on a more frequent basis these days, Wells said the impression Griffey had on him growing up is something that will never get old.
"He was someone that I tried to emulate," Wells said. "It was a right-handed hitter, bit it was kind of the way he played the game. He always had a smile on his face, always had a blast playing the game.
"Hopefully we'll be hearing his name again in five years."