Griffey grateful for time spent with Mays, 'the godfather of center fielders'

June 19th, 2024

To , one of the greatest center fielders of his time, was “the godfather of center fielders.”

That’s how Griffey described Mays on MLB Network after news broke that the all-time great passed away Tuesday at age 93.

“My heart is on the floor. That's the best way I can describe it,” Griffey said. “To hear the news today is devastating.”

Griffey’s first interactions with Mays came when he was a child while his father, Ken Griffey Sr., was in the big leagues. As the younger Griffey prepared as a teenager for his own Major League journey, “The Kid” began receiving mentorship from the “Say Hey Kid” on how to be the best ballplayer possible.

“Number one, be yourself,” Griffey said, when asked what wisdom Mays imparted upon him. “Go out there and play as hard as you can because everything hit to us is fair. ... Go out there and play as hard as you can, have fun, smile, and just be you.”

But their conversations often focused on matters far beyond center field.

“He would talk more about life and stuff and how he grew up and the things that he had to overcome, and he still did it with dignity, class and a smile,” Griffey said.

Griffey and Mays combined for 1,290 home runs in the Majors. They made 37 All-Star Games, collected 22 Gold Gloves and were first-ballot Hall of Famers. Their achievements -- and friendship -- will last forever.

“I'm just grateful and thankful that I was able to spend the time I had with him,” Griffey said, “because he is a true giant on and off the field.”