All season long, Ken Griffey Jr. has been the initiator of clubhouse pranks and torments on other players. It was all in good fun, but still, there are many in that room who relish the chance for a little payback.
They got it tonight, courtesy of Mike Sweeney, Jay Buhner, Russell Branyan and some others. It all began when Sweeney held a pre-game meeting of his L. Ben Show members — the club’s reservists and bench guys, pronounced “El Bencho” — next to Griffey’s locker.
Buhner was in the clubhouse and sat in on the “meeting”.
I told them, ‘Men, the last two times we’ve gathered here, Junior’s gone deep. Tonight, we’re going to witness history. Junior’s hitting No. 630’,” Sweeney said.
Sure enough, Griffey hit No. 630 in the fourth inning.
So, naturally, Sweeney and a posse of players were waiting for him post-game.
Photo Credit: AP
“He didn’t want to go,” Sweeney said. “I had to chase him all the way into the trainer’s room. Buhner helped me and we dragged him out there.”
Into the showers Griffey went. The L. Ben Show guys had the beer and led the dousing. Branyan poured a bucket of ice water over Griffey’s head. Much hooting and hollering and screaming ensued.
Later, manager Don Wakamatsu, preparing to give his post-game press conference, quipped that: “If there was any question about his knees bothering him, he ran faster down the hall than he did in any game.”
Griffey tried to keep a straight face as he took questions about the festivities once he’d toweled off.
“I do not condone that type of behavior in our locker room,” he deadpanned.
Asked if he’d gotten the chocolate syrup treatment as well, he replied:
“I don’t remember anything. I’m still shaking off this brain freeze that Russell gave me…it’s OK, I’ll introduce him to my little friend tomorrow.”
Griffey later said his teammates passed on the chocolate because they know he’s allergic to it. I think he was being serious about that.
“It’s all in good fun,” Griffey said. “Everybody cares about one another and when we do special things we celebrate it.”
So, how’s he going to celebrate tomorrow? After all, it could be the final game of his career. Griffey isn’t dropping any hints about whether he’ll announce his retiremement soon after the season or not.
“We’re still kicking it around,” he said. “I think that’s the important thing. That we finish the year out and worry about it later. We’ll see. I’m not in any rush. Everybody else is in a rush. But we’ve got a long off-season. There’s going to be some changes and hopefully it works out.
“I don’t really think about it. I think about going up there and swinging a bat. And whose team wins one more game. You (media) all might be a little sensative but it will be OK for you all.”
Griffey has hit three home runs this final home stand. Wakamatsu has already said he won’t start Griffey in center field, but left open an outside possibility that, if the game was a blowout or something, he might shift him to that spot. But it’s a remote possibility.
Asked whether he planned anything special for the fans, Griffey replied:
“I’ve thought about the Dennis Rodman running off the field naked, but I don’t think the family will go for that.”