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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Junior’s Hall of Fame induction is special

The following editorial from the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin does not necessarily reflect the view of The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board.

When former Seattle Mariner star – no, make that superstar – Ken Griffey Jr. is inducted into baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday, it’s going to be satisfying for Pacific Northwest fans.

Finally, a pro ballplayer who made his mark playing for the Mariners (and whose bust will wear the Mariner cap) will be enshrined in the Hall at Cooperstown. It’s a big deal.

Griffey is a true Mariner, having started his career in Seattle and ending it there. Yes, he did head to Cincinnati (the city of his youth) for most of nine seasons, but his best years were in Seattle. He owned center field at the Kingdome and then Safeco Field from 1989 through 1999. Junior came back to Safeco in 2009 to finish out his career. He called it quits in 2010.

Griffy was elected to the Hall on the first ballot with the highest vote total of any player to date. His name was on 99.3 percent of the ballots. The only reason he wasn’t elected unanimously is because of an unwritten (and nonsensical) rule that nobody can be elected with all the votes. If Babe Ruth wasn’t a unanimous pick, nobody can be.

Nevertheless, the strong showing in the voting shows what an electrifying effect Griffey had. He did it all. His swing was a thing of beauty. He hit with power and he was magic in the field.

Kids in Walla Walla, and across the Pacific Northwest, grew up idolizing Griffey. No. 24 jerseys seemed to be the uniform of the day at every elementary school in town in the 1990s.

Griffey was not only a great player, but he had a real, personal connection with fans.

It’s like the warm feelings a lot of Walla Wallans have for Tony Gwynn and Ozzie Smith.

Folks here were able to watch the two future Hall of Famers get their start as pros at Borleske Stadium.

Gwynn played 42 games with the Walla Walla Padres in 1981 before making his mark as a Hall of Famer with the San Diego Padres.

Smith played a full season, 68 games, for the Walla Walla Padres in 1977. He ended up in St. Louis with the Cardinals where he shined as the Wizard.

Still, Gwynn and Smith belong to Southern California and the Midwest, respectively, but Griffey is a Hall of Famer who represents the Pacific Northwest. He is ours.

Junior’s induction into the Hall of Fame is something all baseball fans in Washington, Oregon and Idaho can share.

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