Atop Space Needle, Griffey's No. 24 flies high

Atop Space Needle, Griffey's No. 24 flies high

SEATTLE -- As Ken Griffey Jr. pulled the rope, one hand over the other, the blue and teal flag billowed around him. Then it lifted, all 600 square feet of it, and flapped above his head. The No. 24 flew over Seattle from the top of the Space Needle.

"I feel like this is kind of full circle," wife Melissa Griffey said. "Start in Seattle, finish up here."

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The Space Needle began flying the Kid's number Friday in honor of the Mariners retiring his No. 24 jersey this weekend and his induction into the Hall of Fame. Griffey is the first player to be inducted into the Hall as a Mariner.

"It means a lot," Griffey said of the Mariners retiring his number. "It's something that you don't think of. You just want to play -- go out there and play baseball. And the organization feels that nobody else should wear that number, it's the ultimate."

Griffey stood on the roof of the Space Needle with the Puget Sound on one side and Lake Union on the other on a perfect Seattle summer day. In front of him sprawled the city where he debuted less than two years after being drafted first overall in 1987, where he spent 13 seasons and where he retired in 2010.

"This is a really nice view," Griffey said.

It was his first time on the roof. The Space Needle also flew Griffey's number in January, after the senior members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted him into the Hall of Fame with 99.3 percent of the vote, the highest in history. Griffey's former teammate Jay Buhner hoisted the flag then, and Griffey only got see the pictures.

"It's nice to be here and have him do it," Melissa Griffey said. "And realizing how big this flag is and how exciting it is."

It was only the start of a busy weekend for Griffey. His number retirement ceremony will be held before the Mariners' game Saturday, and he will participate in the pregame African American Heritage Day ceremony Sunday. Griffey's Hall of Fame plaque will be on display at Safeco Field on Friday and Saturday.

Maddie Lee is a reporter for based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.