iOS app Android app

Griffey Hits 600th Home Run

CHARLIE MCCARTHY   06/10/08 08:27 PM ET   AP

Griffey

CINCINNATI — A day after hitting No. 600, Ken Griffey Jr. held off pondering where he might finish on the career home run list _ or where he could end up playing this season. There has been ample speculation the last-place Cincinnati Reds might try to trade the 38-year-old right fielder once he reached his homer milestone.

"It's not up to me," Griffey said Tuesday, though he does have the power to veto deals. "It's a two-way street. I haven't thought about it."

Griffey was back in the starting lineup against St. Louis, a night after he homered in the Reds' 9-4 win at Florida. The right fielder joined Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa as the only players with 600.

Griffey said the magnitude of his accomplishment still hadn't hit him.

"It probably won't until after I've had a couple of days at home during the offseason to think about it," Griffey said. "We have another game today. We're different than other sports. We don't have days off to think about it. It probably won't hit me until October."

The Reds hung a 54-foot tall banner near the entrance at Great American Ball Park to honor Griffey's achievement and plan to pay tribute to him with a day on June 17.

Griffey began the night hitting .260 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs.

The 13-time All-Star is in the last year of his contract with the hometown Reds. Cincinnati holds an option on him next season at $16.5 million _ the team could buy out of it for $4 million.

"When I stop having fun and can't do it any more, that's when I'll give it up," he said. "I've done everything you can do as far as individual accomplishments, except win a batting title. The team goals are still the same. You want to win a championship. It's a lot of fun, but it's a lot of hard work. It's a 24-hour job. Just because the game is over doesn't mean you stop thinking about it."

Also missing on Griffey's resume is an appearance in the World Series. He's made it to the playoffs only twice, in 1995 and 1997 with Seattle.

Griffey, born in Pennsylvania but raised in Cincinnati while his father starred for the 1970s Big Red Machine teams, has mentioned twice in the last year that he wouldn't mind finishing his career where he started it _ in Seattle.

Griffey was traded from the Mariners to Cincinnati before the 2000 season. Often injured, he's had up-and-down times with Reds fans over the year.

"I don't worry about it," he said. "It's a love-hate relationship here. I just go out and play as hard as I can. The one thing I haven't been able to do is stay as healthy as I wanted to."

Even so, teammate Adam Dunn said Griffey's homer total is hard to comprehend. A slugger himself, Dunn has 254 home runs in just under seven full seasons.

"It's kind of like Bill Gates' money," Dunn said. "I can't fathom how much that is."

Seattle manager John McLaren was a Mariners coach during Griffey's early ascent on the homer chart.

"He was a highlight film every night, whether he was hitting an upper deck home run in the Kingdome or climbing some wall," McLaren said before Seattle played at Toronto on Tuesday night. "He's the first guy I would think of to pay go watch play, just his all-around play."

"I think we're in Safeco (Field) because of him," he said. "For me, he's the best player in the last 25 years. He just ran into a period there he couldn't stay healthy. If he had stayed healthy, you can use your imagination. I was seeing things on TV last night, how they calculate things, and they had him at 710 home runs now with home runs and number of at-bats."

McLaren said some of Griffey's shots especially stood out.

"The thing that comes to mind more than one home run is his ability to hit a homer on his mother's birthday, Mother's Day, or with a Make-A-Wish Foundation kid there that night. He did this on a regular basis and I've never seen anybody be able to do that," he said. "I remember a Make-A-Wish kid was in the clubhouse and Griffey was giving him a jersey and a bat, showing him around and making him laugh and playing video games. He was really making him feel good.

"Before the game he'd say, 'I'm going to try to do something for you, something real special,' and then he'd hit a home run. You think about it, that kid had to feel like a million dollars. He did it on more than one occasion, and for his mother, too. He's a mama's boy."

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

Filed by Nick Graham  |