On October 3, 2009, my wife and I went to a Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field. It was a meaningless game against the Texas Rangers, but neither Biscotti's sister nor Biscotti's sister's hubby had ever been to a baseball game, so the four of us enjoyed a cold evening at Safeco Field.
Growing up in Vancouver, the Mariners were pretty much the hometown baseball team. Seattle was the closest city with a major league team, and the closest Canadian team was waaaaay far away in Toronto. We used to have a triple-A team, but now just a single-A team. Anyway, my position was centre field for the various teams I played with, and I had much admiration for Ken Griffey Jr., who played centre field for the Mariners. His cool batting stance, his smooth swing, and his ability to make leaping catches to rob hitters of home runs were all things that made this boy's heart go all a-flutter.
At the start of that game last October, I was happy Griffey was in the lineup and was aware that it could be the second last - if not the last - game Griffey played. Sitting out the Mariner's final game of the season the following day was a possibility (in fact, he did end up starting), and retirement during the off-season was a distinct possibility. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool to be at the game where he hits his final home run?' Considering he'd only hit 18 all season, I knew it was a long shot (no pun intended). But guess what?! He hit a long shot! It wasn't that long of a shot, but I remember it clearly from the vantage point of our centre field seats. The ball left the bat low, and stayed low. It was heading towards right field wall, and although it was low, it was going fast. My focus was rotating between the ball, the wall, and the right fielder. It became clear, as the right fielder retreated, that he wasn't going to catch the ball, and I was getting ready to watch the ball bounce off the wall when I saw it disappear into the arms of the fans in the first row. Griffey had hit a homer!
The next day I paid online attention to the Mariners game and was happy when it ended with Griffey homerless. I waited all winter to hear news of his retirement and was disappointed when he began the 2010 season. Oh well.. Every time I watched late-evening baseball highlights on television I would cross my fingers that Griffey hadn't hit a homer that day. I knew it was just a matter of time, but I wanted to know when that time was. I would also check Griffey's stats online every few days to make sure I hadn't missed anything. April ended and he was homerless. May ended and he was still homerless. June started and two days in he retired. I promptly checked his season stats online - for what would be the final time - and it was confirmed: I was at the game in which Ken Griffey Jr. hit his final career home run. I saw it in person. I am happy.
My name and a picture I took are in Vancouver Then and Now.