Beyond Golf — 24 July 2016 by Jim Street
Experiencing another Junior moment
Main Street is like a painting

Main Street is like a painting

COOPERSTOWN, NY — When it comes to baseball  heaven, there is no place quite like this out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere town that, for one weekend of every year, steals the spotlight from the various Major League pennant races.

And, for the first time in their 39-year history, the Mariners were front-and-center this past weekend as Ken Griffey Jr. was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming not only the first No. 1 selection in the Major League draft to be enshrined, but the first to go in as a Mariner.

It seems like ages ago that a 17-year-old kid drove his black BMW into the Tempe Diablo Stadium parking lot the day before spring training started, and asked me if I knew the phone number for the main office at the facility. I remember suggesting that he should just walk up the ramp, turn right and he would find the office.

Two years later, Junior was playing his first Major League regular season game — the 1989 season opener in Oakland, where he came to bat in the first inning off A’s ace Dave Stewart and drilled a double into the left-center field gap. A star was born and almost 20 years later, Griffey had solidified himself as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Of the 440 Baseball Writers Association of America members who voted for the Class of 2016, only three did not vote for him — a record-setting 99.3 percent plurality.

Thanks to our long-time association with MLB, and the Hall of Fame, Golferswest.com co-founder Bob Sherwin and I to attend the Induction ceremonies and secured media passes for the three-day extravaganza.

Except for a little glitch with Southwest Airlines, which had its computer system go out while I was changing planes in Baltimore (causing a three-hour delay), the trip went off without a hitch.

As a golf website, we naturally had to play a round, which we did at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club, located almost halfway between Albany, N.Y, the nearest major airport, and Cooperstown.

Here are some photos of the journey:

One of largest crowds ever at the HOF Induction

One of largest crowds ever at the HOF Induction

 

 

Jay and Leah Buhner

Jay and Leah Buhner

 

Some of Junior's people

Some of Junior’s people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trey Griffey

Trey Griffey

 

 

 

Ken and Melissa Griffey

Ken and Melissa Griffey

Main Street is like a painting

Main Street is like a painting

The newest HOF Inductees

The newest HOF Inductees

 

HOF Induction Day (28)

 

 

 

 

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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