Ken Griffey, Jr. retires


by Associated Press

Posted on June 2, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 2 at 10:19 PM

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SEATTLE -  Ken Griffey Jr. retired Wednesday night, ending one of the great careers in baseball history.

The 40-year-old Griffey told the Mariners that he was done playing, and manager Don Wakamatsu made the announcement before Seattle faced Minnesota.

"While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction," Griffey said in a statement.

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"I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be," he said.

Griffey was hitting only .184 with no homers and seven RBIs this year and recently went a week without playing. There was a report earlier this season -- which Griffey denied -- that he'd fallen asleep in the clubhouse during a game.

Griffey was a perennial All-Star outfielder and ranks fifth on the career home run list with 630. He won an MVP award and was a Gold Glover. The only thing missing on his resume was a trip to the World Series.

A star from the get-go, he played 22 years in the majors with Seattle, his hometown Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He hit .284 lifetime with 1,836 RBIs.

For a time in the 1990s, he was considered the best player in baseball. But then injuries began to take their toll and his production started to decline.

Reaction to Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement

"We were very honored to have a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Ken play for us for nine years. The Griffey family is at the center of baseball tradition in Cincinnati, and Ken and his father gave our organization and Reds fans many wonderful memories. Not only was Junior one of the best baseball players of this or any other generation, he is a wonderful person and family man. We wish Ken, Melissa and their family success and happiness in life off the field." -- Reds president Bob Castellini.

"Well, obviously he's the greatest Mariner of all time, and he was a great teammate. Ken was always a team first guy, and this is a perfect example of that. He felt like it was best for team to walk away from the game he loved, so that<s what he did. I love the guy like my brother and Leah and I wish Ken and his family nothing but the best." -- former Mariners teammate Jay Buhner.

"When I first got to the league, I think I struck out off (Jamie) Moyer and I went out to center field and he stayed there, waited on me and told me 'you've got all the ability, you've got all the tools, you're going to be a great center fielder some day.' That's something that stuck with me and I'm always bringing it up to him, just talk about it and laugh about." -- Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said.

"Well, I think it's a bit of a surprise for myself, like everybody else, but when I think when I look back on Kenny's career a big smile comes over my face. And the biggest reason why is because he was one of the best teammates I ever had. I know everybody can look at the numbers he put up; first ballot Hall of Famer and all that stuff, but he was also a great teammate and a great friend to have." -- former Mariners teammate Mike Blowers.

"I really appreciate Ken coming back as he did and everything he's meant to this franchise as we stand here on Safeco Field because we might not be standing here today but for Ken Griffey Jr. They say in New York Yankee Stadium is the 'House that Ruth built' in Seattle Washington we say 'it's the house Ken Griffey Jr. built." -- Mariners president Chuck Armstrong.

"He was an intimidating force in their lineup." Royals manager Ned Yost.