When Ken Griffey, Jr. (609+) hit home run #600 on June 9, 2008, to become the newest member of the vaulted 600 Home Run Club (and only the 6th player in MLB history to hit 600 or more home runs) “Junior” was honored to just have his name mentioned in the same sentence with players like Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660) and Sammy Sosa (609).
But now, as a member of the Chicago White Sox, the fan favorite now has these all-time greats squarely in his sights. As the leader home run hitter among active players, the perennial All-Star is currently tied with Sammy Sosa (609) and will sometime soon take the fifth spot behind Willie Mays (660).
"I don't think I touched any of the bases because I just kind of floated around," said the 38-year-old Griffey. After rounding the bases and receiving a standing ovation from a small but appreciative crowd of only 16,003, he responded by coming out of the Reds dugout and waving his helmet to the fans. Then he turned to his 14-year-old son, Trey, who joined his Red teammates in offering congratulations in the dugout.
Griffey, a 13-time All-Star, was the youngest player to hit 400 home runs when he reached that mark at the age of 30 years, 141 days in 2000.
Junior's Game Has Never Been About The Long Ball
Although Junior is linked numerically with Bonds, Aaron and Ruth, he has never been defined by the home run. His game is so well-rounded that he was voted an All-Century outfielder with Seattle before his 30th birthday. By then, his backward cap and light-up smile were the face of baseball.
When Griffey was traded to his hometown team before the 2000 season, he was significantly ahead of Aaron's record home run pace. Despite a series of injuries including: a torn hamstring, dislocated kneecap and shoulder plagued him in the later half of his 20-year career, he has steadily moved up the list of home run leaders.