Griffey Jr. joins Mariners ownership group

October 26th, 2021

SEATTLE -- Ken Griffey Jr.’s imprint on the Mariners’ franchise has extended well beyond his time as one of his generation’s greatest players. He’ll now have the chance to make as big an impact as ever after the team announced Monday that the Hall of Famer has joined its partnership group.

Griffey, who has been a special consultant to the franchise since 2011, is the first Mariners player to join as a partner after purchasing ownership shares in the team, club chairman and managing general partner John Stanton announced.

“We're going to win,” Griffey said during a press conference at T-Mobile Park. “I don't like losing. The guys who played with me and the guys I played against [know] I'm a very bad loser. And I take this responsibility to the highest level. I think being a 17-year-old kid getting drafted, I consider this like the guy who started in the mailroom and now has worked his way up. This is an opportunity, like I said, that I don't take lightly.”

Griffey absorbed what Stanton described as a portion of one of the 17 current partners’ interests as part of a process that began in June. That partner, who was undisclosed, did not completely sell off his share and remains with the Mariners. Stanton said that Griffey is not obtaining the forfeited ownership shares of Kevin Mather, who resigned as president and CEO in February.

The Mariners did not unveil how large Griffey’s ownership stake is. Stanton described the matter is a “routine process” that began as part of the partial buyout of Nintendo in 2016, when Stanton took on his current role. Every other year, there is a window for partners to sell any amount of their interest in the team or buy more. Griffey joined the group in September, but he preferred not to make the announcement then given Seattle’s late-season playoff push, which came up short -- extending the team's playoff drought to 20 years.

Griffey is the 18th representative of the partnership group, which is comprised of a combination of individuals and couples who count as one. As is custom for any ownership addition, Griffey needed to receive a unanimous vote of approval from the rest of the group.

“I've had the opportunity to work with Ken for the last couple of years on the MLB competition committee,” Stanton said. “And I know from that, Ken is a fan, but I also understand his incisive mind. He sees things that other people don't see, and he has a perspective on the game that I think is unique, even among former players.”

Griffey, 51, is the first new partner since Stanton joined the group in 2000, and he’s just the second addition in the past 30 years. Stanton said that his first conversations with the 13-time All-Star about joining were in March '19, when the club opened its regular season in Japan.

Most unique about Griffey's addition is that he’ll bring a player’s lens, quite literally, to the table. That could be monumental for numerous reasons, including further bridging the clubhouse’s relationship with the front office, how to approach free agency and more.

“Just a player’s aspect, what a player thinks,” Griffey said. “What a player thinks, going through the free-agent thing, trades. Just be able to give a player's view. ‘Would this guy fit in? What he does.’ Those type of things. … I think the [ownership group] would come down and talk to us more so back [when I was playing], but you don't have that player to be able to say, ‘Hey, look at it this way.’ It just gives a different viewpoint that maybe they haven't thought of. But you do have some smart people in the room. And you’ve got some people who care.”

Griffey also brings a perspective as a former member of the Major League Baseball Players Association ahead of the looming expiration of the collective bargaining agreement with MLB on Dec. 1.

“Nobody wants a work stoppage,” Griffey said. “Neither party wants a work stoppage. So I think over the next couple months, they're going to work hard trying to resolve this and not have it.”

Griffey, who also has ownership stake with MLS’ Seattle Sounders, still resides in Orlando, Fla., and plans to commute to the Seattle area a little more regularly. He never thought he’d be in the position to buy into a professional sports franchise, yet here he is -- The Kid from Donora, Pa., who more than anything wants to replicate the success his teams of yesteryear with the on-field product of today.

“The state of Washington, the people in Seattle, they want it here,” Griffey said. “They want 45,000 people here every night, and I know how that feels. I know what the fans want to be a part of. That's the thing. We just haven't had it in a few years. Hopefully we can do it next year and just keep snowballing.”