When Ken Griffey Jr. plays his first game in 2010, he will join a fairly exclusive club — those players who have appeared in four different decades. Griffey broke into the majors in 1989 and then played in the 1990s, the “aughts”, and now will be in the ’10s (or whatever this coming decade will be called).
Here’s the full list, from Baseball Almanac. They list 24 four-decade players in history, plus two five-decade players — Nick Altrock and Minnie Minoso. In both cases, their fifth-decade appearances were ceremonial — a single plate appearance with Washington in 1931 and ’33 for Altrock, when he was in his ’50s, and two at-bats in 1980 for Minoso with the White Sox when he was 55. Actually, Minoso’s appearance in the 1970s was pretty much the same thing, so give him an asterisk.
The most recent four-decade guys were Rickey Henderson, Mike Morgan, Jesse Orosco and Tim Raines, who played in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s.
Jamie Moyer, who broke into the majors in 1986 with the Cubs, is also poised to join this club.
Griffey, who turns 40 on Nov. 21 — a week from Saturday — will also join another intriguing group: the four-decade club by age. He was 19 when he made his major-league debut in 1989, and then played in his 20s, 30s and now 40s.
I haven’t been able to come up with a list of other four-decade-by-agers, but I’d be interested to hear nominees. I thought perhaps Al Kaline, who was 18 when he broke in, but Kaline was 39 when he retired in 1974. I’m sure some more will come to me.