Griffey Sr. proud of son before HOF enshrinement

Starting as a teammate in Seattle, now he's 'just being a dad' in Cooperstown

Griffey Sr. proud of son before HOF enshrinement

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Ken Griffey Sr. may have paved the way for his son's Major League Baseball career with 19 seasons of his own in the big leagues, but proud papa acknowledges Junior is on his own now as he prepares to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend.

The elder Griffey says Junior hasn't asked him for help when it comes to putting together his induction speech for this Sunday's ceremony, or dealing with all the hoopla headed his way.

Coverage begins on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 a.m. PT Sunday, with the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies getting under way live at 10:30 a.m.

"He didn't ask me for advice, and I wasn't going to give him any," Griffey Sr. said on Friday outside the Hall of Fame museum that will soon include his son's plaque. "I haven't been in that situation. The only thing I tell him is that I've got three World Series rings and he doesn't have any. But I told him he has the big ring now, so he's the boss."

The 66-year-old Griffey has shared an incredible journey with his son, including their chance to play 51 games together with the Mariners at the end of 1990 and the start of '91 at the conclusion of his playing career.

"It's been an amazing trip," Senior said. "Watching him grow and get better every year -- I really didn't find out how good he was until I ended up playing left field in Seattle and found out how much ground he could cover, what kind of player he was, what kind of offensive player he was.

"You've got to understand, I played with the Yankees from '82-86 and had guys like Don Baylor, [Don] Mattingly, [Dave] Winfield, those guys hitting behind me. And when I went to Seattle and had a 20-year-old kid hitting behind me, I got more fastballs than I'd ever seen in my life. And I ended up hitting .377 [in 77 at-bats the first season], so that right there in itself will tell you what kind of ballplayer he was."

Like his son, Griffey Sr. has yet to set foot in the Hall of Fame, though he plans to take a tour this weekend. And yeah, he's looking forward to hearing his son's induction speech on Sunday, noting, "You're never sure what's going to come out of his mouth."

Griffey Sr. on his son in HOF

"He hasn't told me anything about what he's going to say," Senior said. "But he'll have something real off the cuff to say about family and everybody else. He'll have a lot to say about me, once he gets to joking about his dad. But I always get the last laugh, because I can ground him still."

Griffey Jr. spends much of his time now with his own three kids, with Trey and Taryn attending the University of Arizona and 14-year-old Tevyn still at home in Florida. And that is something his father admires as well.

"He's more about the kids than anything," said Senior. "I didn't have the opportunity he had in terms of staying close to them. My job was to play ball and provide for my family, which I did. It was a totally different time, because I wasn't making the kind of money that he made.

The Griffeys go back-to-back

"When Trey had a football game when he was little, Junior could lease an airplane and fly home. I couldn't even get a cab to go somewhere. It's totally different, but I praise him, because he's always been close to his kids. And I tried to be close to my three. It was a little tougher for me, but I was there for them whatever they needed."

And, yes, Senior will be there this weekend, watching proudly as his son achieves the ultimate honor for any Major League player.

"I'm here to support him," Senior said. "I'm just being a dad. I'm here just to grin and smile, and hopefully I don't break down. But I may have to do that, too."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.