ARLINGTON -- Ken Griffey Jr., whose superior performance and effervescent demeanor thrilled legions of fans throughout his 22-year career, received the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award, which recognizes achievements and contributions of historical significance. Griffey was recognized at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington during a news conference Sunday preceding Game 4 of the World Series. He became only the 12th recipient of the award, which was created in 1998, and the first since 2007, when Rachel Robinson was honored for sustaining the legacy of her late husband, Jackie Robinson, and for her service to Major League Baseball. Commissioner Bud Selig said of Griffey in a statement, "Ken Griffey, Jr. was a gifted all-around player with a perfect swing, a brilliant glove and a childlike joy for the game. From the time he was just 19, Ken represented Major League Baseball with excellence and grace, and he was one of our sport's greatest ambassadors not only in Seattle and Cincinnati, but also around the world. I am most appreciative for all of Ken's contributions to our national pastime."
Unanimously elected as the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1997, Griffey ranks fifth on baseball's all-time list with 630 home runs. He won 10 Gold Gloves for his defensive prowess in center field and was the youngest member of MLB's All-Century Team, which was named in 1999. Griffey played for the Seattle Mariners (1989-99, 2009-10), the Cincinnati Reds (2000-08) and the Chicago White Sox ('08). The 13-time All-Star concluded his career with 50,044,176 All-Star votes from fans, more than any Major Leaguer in history. It was Griffey who suggested to Commissioner Selig in 2007 to allow on-field personnel throughout the Majors to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. That tradition has continued.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.