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October 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Ken Griffey Jr. to receive commissioner’s highest award

griffeycommish.jpg

(Photo by Associated Press)

Former Mariner great Ken Griffey Jr. will receive the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award at a press conference prior to Game 4 of the World Series tonight in Arlington, Texas.

Griffey becomes the 12th recipient of the award, which was created in 1998 to recognize achievements and contributions of historical significance. Commissioner Bud Selig has not bestowed the award since 2007, when Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, was honored.

Two of the previous winners, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., were given their award in Seattle at Safeco Field during the 2001 All-Star Game. Ichiro was honored in 2005 for breaking the single-season hits record the previous year, and the 2001 Mariners received the award for their 116-win season. Other recipients were Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roberto Clemente and Rickey Henderson.

Griffey was a 13-time All-Star who achieved his initial, and greatest, success with the Mariners before being traded to the Reds prior to the 2000 season. He returned to Seattle as a free agent in 2009, and retired June 2, 2010. Griffey hit 630 home runs, won the 1997 MVP Award in the American League, was named to MLB’s All-Century team in 1999, and scored the most famous run in Mariners history on Edgar Martinez’s double in 1995. Griffey also came up with the idea to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, which Selig expanded in 2007 to allow on-field personnel throughout MLB to wear the number. The tradition has continued annually.

“Ken Griffey Jr. was a gifted all-around player with a perfect swing, a brilliant glove and a childlike joy for the game,” Selig said in a release. “From the time he was just 19, Ken represented Major League Baseball with excellence and grace, and he was one of our sport’s greatest ambassadors not only in Seattle and Cincinnati, but also around the world. I am most appreciative for all of Ken’s contributions to our national pastime.”

According to the release, the trophy, which stands 12 inches tall, has a sterling silver base with a baseball mounted at the top. The words “Commissioner’s Historic Achievement” are engraved around the base of the trophy with the Major League Baseball silhouetted batter logo above the type.

Griffey, who now works for the Mariners as a special assistant, hasn’t yet been honored at Safeco Field by the ballclub since his retirement.

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