SAMMAMISH, Wa. – In a little more than seven weeks, Ken Griffey Jr. will stand in front of a large audience in Cooperstown, NY, and deliver what surely will be a from-the-heart speech.
And in typical fashion, Junior is taking his sweet time putting his thoughts on paper.
“I haven’t started writing the speech yet,” the former Mariners centerfielder said on Tuesday afternoon as he strolled along the pristine 14th fairway at Sahalee Country Club during the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship Pro-Am. “I had some friends who said they would write but said, ‘Uh, no you won’t.”
More likely than not on July 24, Griffey’s own words will flow just as smoothly as the swing that produced 630 career home runs, 13 All-Star Games (all starts), 10 Gold Gloves and the highest percentage of votes in the storied National Baseball Hall of Fame history.
Griffey was named on 99.3 percent (437 of 440) of the votes by veteran members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
This will be his second visit to the HOF since the election and the first time he has entered the hallowed halls. That, he said on Tuesday, will happen on the Friday before his induction, two days before a family bet is settled.
“There is an over-under as to when I will start crying,” Junior said. “My dad said 90 seconds (into the speech) and that’s the low. My son, Trey, said, ‘Dad, if you start crying I will have to explain it to my (University of Arizona) football team.’
“My youngest son, Tevin, said, ‘Please don’t start crying (because) I am going into high school and I don’t want to start my freshman year off like that.’ And my daughter, Taryn, said, ‘Oh Dad, go ahead and cry.’”
Although not exactly at his baseball-playing weight, Griffey hits a golf ball with as much authority as he did a baseball.
Asked if it’s harder to hit a golf ball straight or a baseball far, Griffey said: “Hitting a golf ball straight, because I could care less after it leaves my bat, as long as it touches grass or some seats.
“I prefer the seats, so I can make a couple of lefts.”
Junior stood out in the crowd, wearing gray shirt and slacks supplied by Nike. He also had Nike clubs. And Nike shoes. He also said he felt at ease on the course with the best women golfers in the world. He has, after all, played numerous times with Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara and the late Payne Stewart. Now he plays with Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson.
“Every now and the ball pas them,” he said. Asked about the pink driver that Bubba uses, Griffey said, “I wanted one of those pink drivers, so he sent me one.”
So how did Griffey impress his playing companions?
“He hits the ball a mile and he has a nice swing, too,” said Lydia Ko, the No. 1-ranked women’s player in the world and member of the Tuesday Griffey foursome that also included former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. “He hit some amazing shots out there.”
Junior didn’t brag. “I had a nice drive on (No. 1) and a nice approach on 18 and that’s all people need to know.” Ko said it was a terrific experience.
“Of course I know who he is,” the 19-year-old Auckland, New Zealand golfer said. “He is an amazing baseball player, and is going into the Hall of Fame. It was a pleasure playing with a legend today.”