Ken Griffey Jr. is best known for his 611 career home runs.
But the 39-year-old slugger also has been respected for his professional demeanor on and off the baseball field. The Chicago White Sox declined the $10 million option to retain Griffey for the 2009 season. He underwent knee surgery and his future in baseball remains undetermined after he declared for free agency.
In the meantime, Griffey has become the newest American Public Diplomacy Envoy. He was introduced in
last week by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
What will Griffey do as an American Public Diplomacy Envoy?
"When Ken Griffey travels overseas, one of his greatest objectives will be to talk to young people and to spark their interest in
and in our culture," Rice told reporters.
"When Dr. Rice called and said that she would like me to do this, I didn't really have to think about it," responded Griffey, who also starred for
earlier in his career.
"After a certain age, you pretty much set your ways. But if we can reach out to young children about our culture and also about our pastime, which is baseball….not those other sports like football," Griffey added with a wry laugh during the State Department ceremony.
Griffey joined Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. figure skater Michelle Kwan and actress Fran Drescher as envoys.
No doubt, Griffey will be a big hit long after his playing days.