Over the years, several father-and-son duos have made sports history. One father-and-son duo that often comes to the minds of baseball fans is Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. Learn more about these incredible players in Major League Baseball and their influence on the game.
About Ken Griffey Sr.
George Kenneth Griffey was born in Donora, Pennsylvania, on April 10, 1950. He was one of six children raised by a single mother after his father left the family when Griffey was two years old. According to an interview given to ESPN in 2016, Griffey didn’t see his father for over a decade after he left the family. During his childhood, Griffey was known throughout the Donora community as a star football player. He played wide receiver and often competed in track meets for Donora High School.
Although he played baseball in high school, his focus was on football. During baseball games, he would sometimes rush up the hill to participate in track meets in between at-bats. Despite focusing on football, he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds during the 1969 draft. Griffey chose to sign with the organization, playing in the minor leagues for his first season. He made his MLB debut on Aug. 25, 1973, playing in 25 games during that season. His batting percentage came in at .384 and he hit three home runs.
With his impressive batting percentage during his first season in the major leagues, Griffey got more playing time during the following season. He played in 88 games and broke out with a .305 batting average. During that season, he hit 46 RBIs and four home runs. He had his best season the following year, coming in just behind Bill Madlock for the batting title. Griffey ended that season with a career-high batting average of .336 and was considered for the league MVP award.
During Griffey’s tenure with the Reds, the team came to be known as the “Big Red Machine,” a nickname that referred to their domination of the league for nearly a decade. Between 1970 and 1979, the team won the National League West Division six times and the National League pennant four times. During that period, the franchise also won the World Series twice. They averaged more than 95 wins per season, putting up 953 wins over the nine years.
Griffey’s season statistics are impressive, making him an all-star in the MLB. His batting average was .296, and he hit 152 home runs during his career. He also made 2,143 hits and batted 859 runs while playing in the league. Griffey played for the Reds for eight years, then went to the New York Yankees from 1982 through 1986. He played the following two seasons with the Atlanta Braves before returning to the Reds in 1988. His final season was with the Seattle Mariners, and he retired after playing his final game on May 31, 1991.
Griffey was a three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. While Griffey was in high school, his girlfriend became pregnant with his child. Their son, George Kenneth Griffey Jr., was born on Nov. 21, 1969, just after Griffey finished his first season in the minor leagues.
About Ken Griffey Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr. is a former professional outfielder who played for 22 years in the MLB. He’s known throughout the league as one of the best home run hitters in history, ranking seventh on the list with 630 home runs during his career. Griffey Jr. was also born in Donora, Pennsylvania, although his family relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, when he was six years old. He spent much of his childhood at the ballpark, cheering for his father and learning the game.
When the Reds won back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976, Griffey Jr. was in the locker room with the team. He played at Archbishop Moeller High School, where he was named the U.S. high school baseball player of the year in 1987. Over two seasons, he hit 17 home runs and scored a batting average of .478. Similar to his father, Griffey Jr. played wide receiver for the high school football team and was recruited by the University of Michigan and the University of Oklahoma.
During the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft in early June 1987, Griffey Jr. was the No. 1 overall pick. The Seattle Mariners selected him and offered a $160,000 signing bonus. In his first season, Griffey Jr. played for the Bellingham Mariners, which was the minor-league affiliate team for the Seattle Mariners. During that season, he averaged .313 and led the team with 40 RBIs, 13 steals, and 14 home runs. He was the top major league prospect and got his chance to play in the major leagues two years after signing with the Mariners.
On April 3, 1989, he took the field as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Griffey Jr. played for the Mariners for 11 consecutive seasons, racking up 1,152 RBIs, 398 home runs, and 1,752 hits during that time. He also led the American League in home runs over four seasons and maintained a consistent .297 batting average over his career. He was also an incredible defender, earning 10 straight Golden Glove awards between 1990 and 1999. Fans loved to watch him make over-the-shoulder catches and diving plays. Both Griffeys played together on the Seattle Mariners during the 1990-1991 season.
During the American League Division Series in 1995, Griffey led the team to a comeback win in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 5. He was a 13-time All-Star, the American League MVP in 1997, and seven-time recipient of the league’s Silver Slugger Award. Griffey signed valuable deals with massive companies like Nintendo and Nike, and he was prominently featured on Wheaties cereal boxes. He also honored Jackie Robinson by wearing the number 42 on April 15, 1997, which led to the formation of Jackie Robinson Day in the league.
After a trade sent him to the Cincinnati Reds, Griffey Jr. changed his number from 24 to 30 because the Reds had retired the number 24 in honor of Tony Perez. Griffey Jr. struggled during his first few seasons with the Reds, suffering from a string of injuries that lowered his bat speed. He underwent an experimental surgery, referred to as the “Junior operation,” to have his hamstring reattached with three titanium screws.
The experiment proved successful, as Griffey Jr. came back to the Reds and scored 35 home runs during the 2005 season. Despite suffering additional injuries, he remained with the franchise for several years until a trade sent him to the Chicago White Sox in 2008. He became a free agent for the first time in his career at the end of that season and returned to the Mariners for the 2009-2010 season, which would be his last.
The Mariners manager limited Griffey Jr.’s playing time and rumors swirled about his performance. The clubhouse was in turmoil and Griffey Jr. left the team during a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins, effectively retiring from the sport. He later stated that he retired to avoid being a distraction to his teammates. In February 2011, the franchise hired him as a special consultant, and he assists with spring training and visits the team’s minor-league affiliates.
The Mariners retired his jersey number 24 in 2016 and inducted him into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame. As one of just three inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame to have been selected first in an MLB draft, Griffey Jr. made history. He currently works as a senior advisor to the MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Griffey Jr. and his family live in Winter Garden, Florida, as does his father, Griffey Sr. Griffey Jr. and his wife have three children, one of whom played as a wide receiver in the National Football League. Another son plays football at Florida A&M University, while their daughter played for the women’s basketball team at the University of Arizona. The Griffey family is currently a minority owner in the Seattle Sounders FC, a professional soccer team that plays in Major League Soccer.
Fans of the Griffey father-and-son duo can shop for officially licensed sports apparel at Fanatics. The selection of memorabilia and sports collectibles honors current and past players, including both Griffey Sr. and Griffey Jr. Fans can find items from Griffey Sr.’s stint with the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners, as well as items that honor Griffey Jr.’s time with both teams. Along with MLB gear, the collection at Fanatics includes sports must-haves across all leagues and teams.