10 GIFs that showcase the awesomeness of new Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
There are plenty of those retrospectives out there that feature Ken Griffey Jr.'s 10 best plays, his 24 greatest dingers, his 100 best catches, and so on. That's not what this is.
These are 10 GIFs that show there was something special about Junior -- even compared to the other legends of the game.
1. The Swing
Romantic poetry has nothing on Junior's swing. Even the most finely polished of marble countertops are not as smooth as these mechanics at the plate. This is the glory of the human form.
2. The hat
If the swing is classical physics, then his cap is postmodern pop art. This was fun. This was unique. This was a star player doing things his way.
3. The autograph
Junior wasn't just an athlete -- he was a cultural icon. Even that other cultural icon, Michael Jordan, wanted his autograph.
4. The warehouse
Hitting homers is cool. Hitting long home runs is even cooler. While you may not remember who won the 1993 Home Run Derby (Juan Gonzalez, who needed a double-playoff against Griffey to do it), you certainly remember when Junior powered up and drove a ball to the Warehouse.
In case that fact ever slips your mind, there's a plaque there to remind you.
5. The father-son bonding
Thanks to amazing genepools, there have been a number of great father-son combos in the big leagues. And yet, none of them ever played with their fathers ... except Junior. When Ken Griffey Sr. joined the Mariners at the age of 40 in 1990, the two got to team up.
Not only did they play together, they homered together. Back-to-back. I don't know math well enough to calculate the odds, but I'm pretty sure this whole human endeavor was never supposed to pull off something that cool.
6. The chill
That's right: With that backwards hat, no one had more style. Move over The Carlton, this is the dance that should have defined the '90s:
It pairs even better with the song Junior recorded:
7. The place in history
While every player now wears No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day to honor the Hall of Famer, Junior was the first to do it after petitioning Bud Selig for the right. (Though there were players like Mariano Rivera and Mo Vaughn who wore No. 42 for their careers in homage before his number was retired league-wide.)
8. The one man wrecking crew
Of course, for all his skills off the field, Griffey could drive the ball like no one else.
One of his best games came on May 13, 2000, against the Astros. After doubling in a run in the sixth, he was the middle dinger in a back-to-back-to-back homer session with Michael Tucker and Dmitri Young. The next inning, he came up with two outs, a runner on first and the Reds trailing, 7-6. All he did: homer again.
While the fan who caught it was ready to throw it back onto the field, the rest of the crowd around him screamed out, "What are you doing?! That's a Griffey home run! You don't throw that back!"
9. The Sacrifice
When Griffey had the choice between protecting himself or helping the team, he chose the team every time.
That led to one of the greatest catches you'll ever see. His karate kick leap -- straight into the wall in the Kingdome -- put him on the shelf with a fractured wrist, but it's also become as iconic as Jerry West dribbling the ball for the NBA or Macaulay Culkin slapping himself in the face and screaming in "Home Alone."
10. The Slide
While Junior demolished Yankees pitching during the 1995 ALDS -- hitting .391 with five home runs in the series -- it wasn't his bat that people remember from the series. Rather, in the bottom of the 11th of Game 5, Griffey stood on first with the Mariners trailing by a run. When Edgar Martinez doubled to the gap, Griffey was off. His focus fully on scoring that winning run.