I recall so vividly a day back in the summer of 1990. I was 11 years old. I was with my best friend, Jeff, at the local IGA grocery store, Henger’s. We had just parked our bikes outside and walked in through the automatic doors—the kind with the black rubber mats that you had to step on to activate. We were standing in the lobby opening packs of baseball cards that we had just bought. We had either just bought them from Green Diamond or Joe’s Card shop—both frequent stops for Jeff and I on our epic bike rides “up-town.” In one of the packs I opened was a 1990 Topps Ken Griffey Jr All Star Rookie card1. While I was clueless at the time of who he was, Jeff recognized instantly at what I had and quickly offered a trade. I was suspicious and declined the trade.
Later that day when my Dad got home I asked him who Ken Griffey Jr. was. He told me “He is a great ball player. You should keep an eye on him.” While this doesn’t sound that enthusiastic, it really stuck with me.
From that day on, Jr. was my favorite baseball player. I would later collect between 40-50 of his cards—all of which I hope are still intact at my parents house. I would also watch him whenever Seattle games were televised or try to catch him on the radio—including the devastating loss to Cleveland in the 1995 American League Championship Series—as often as I could.
I only recall my dad making a similar comment about one other athlete, Michael Jordan (during the 1985 NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest).
A related side story: I also recall a few years later being at a baseball card show at Young’s Jersey Dairy. We were talking to a guy who was trying to sell my Dad a pack of 1989 Upper Deck cards. The incentive was a Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card. My dad bought 1 pack, opened it up and right there on top was Jr.
Props to my Pops.
1Unfortunately for Topps, they never made a 1989 Ken Griffey Rookie Card.