Ken Griffey Jr. was not himself this season, struggling at the plate with a meager .184 batting average and no home runs.
But his legacy will remain intact as a champion and future Hall of Famer after he announced his retirement in midseason while a member of the Seattle Mariners.
"There's going to be a big void that will never be filled," Mariners teammate Mike Sweeney said. "You can't match a Ken Griffey Jr. His charisma, what he's accomplished on the field, his heart. You can't replace Ken Griffey Jr., on or off the field."
Griffey will be remembered for his 630 career home runs, and the ability he had to run down fly balls like a gazelle when he was younger. At age 40, Griffey served as an occasional designated hitter, a mentor, and a guy who lightened the mood in the Seattle clubhouse.
"We'll still have a lot of fun and do what we did because of how he showed us to play the game, and have fun winning or losing,” Seattle reliever Shawn Kelley told MLB.com. “He's touched a lot of people, and there are a lot of guys in this clubhouse who have learned a lot from him. We'll continue to be the same group, but we'll miss him."
Griffey’s 22-year career included stops with Cincinnati, Seattle and the Chicago White Sox. Had serious injuries not sidelined him on several occasions, Griffey could have retired with nearly 700 homers.
"I grew up with Ken Griffey Jr. being the best player in baseball, and to get to know him on a personal level is something that, obviously, a lot of kids wished they could have done. I was fortunate enough to be one of those kids," shortstop Josh Wilson said. "I'm going to miss just being able to talk to the guy. ... Seeing him smiling and joking around, coming up and trying to squeeze the [air] out of my rib cage every day -- I'm going to miss that, too."