'He looked so happy to play the game,' A's OF says of HOF inductee
By Mark Chiarelli
OAKLAND -- Ken Griffey Jr will officially be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, commemorating an exceptional career spanning 22 seasons that earned him the highest percentage of votes in the history of players entering the Hall.
A's outfielder Khris Davis said he had the privilege of taking in a small portion of that career up close, and took time Saturday to reflect on one of his "all-time favorite players."
Davis' father, Rodney, was the Mariners' rookie-ball coach when Davis was 8 and 9 years old, and Khris worked as the Mariners' bat boy during Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
"I would just watch A-Rod and [Griffey]," Davis said. "They would just make the game look so easy, and I just wanted to do that too. It's a pretty hard game. I respect what they did and the examples they set for me too."
Griffey finished his career with 630 homers and a .284 career batting average, and also grew up around the game, overlapping his father Ken Griffey Sr.'s 19-year career. He spent 13 years with the Mariners, becoming one of the most recognizable figures in baseball.
Davis said he was in awe of Griffey, adding "I made sure not to bug him."
"He looked like he was just having fun a lot of the time. He looked so happy to play the game," Davis said.
Davis even had a Griffey Jr. model glove as a kid. Knowing this, Griffey played a prank on Davis one day, saying Davis stole his glove from him. An incredulous Davis looked down at the glove before looking at back at Griffey, quickly realizing it was a joke.
"I told him he was left-handed," Davis said with a smile, "So there's no way it could be his glove."
A's hitting coach Darren Bush often tells the power-hitting Davis he has a left-handed swing in a right-hander's body, comparing it to Griffey's swing.
"Griffey was just a kid amongst men," Davis said. "Making it look so easy was my favorite thing about him."
Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.