Griffey Jr. hits 500th home run on Father’s Day

Written by: Aaron McCoy

On June 20, 2004, Ken Griffey Jr. presented his dad with a special Father’s Day gift as “The Kid” belted a ball into deep right field to enter the 500-home run club. Griffey Jr. made sure to embrace his father in the stands after rounding the bases and celebrating with his Cincinnati teammates at home plate.

The Reds led 5-0 after five innings on the road in St. Louis. Griffey Jr., with his recognizable batting stance and sweet swing, tagged starting pitcher Matt Morris for a solo shot in the top of the sixth. This insurance run lifted the Reds to a 6-0 victory over the eventual National League Champions.

With this estimated 393-foot big fly at Busch Stadium, the 34-year-old outfielder became the 20th Major Leaguer to go yard 500 times.

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“It was a nice Father’s Day present, but it’s an easy way to get out of giving me something,” joked Griffey Sr., according to the Associated Press. This was similar to the gift he was given four years earlier, as Griffey Jr. hit his 400th home run on his dad’s 50th birthday on April 10, 2000.

As part of one of the most iconic families to ever play the game, it was only right that Junior reached this important mark on Father’s Day. Many players can trace their family tree through Major League Baseball; however, the Griffeys are the only father-son duo to play for the same team, and the pair even hit back-to-back homers while playing with the Seattle Mariners in 1990.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr.'s careers overlapped as they played together in Seattle from 1990-91. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Griffey Sr., a two-time World Series champion, three-time All-Star and 1980 All-Star Game MVP, spent his final two seasons in Seattle, finishing with 152 home runs and a career batting average of .296.

Griffey Jr., who grew up watching his dad play for the Reds during the era of the “Big Red Machine” in the 1970s, returned to the Queen City in 2000 after spending the first 11 years of his career in Seattle. Griffey Sr. also served as the Reds’ bench coach at the time of his son’s arrival in Cincinnati.

Though Junior’s production with his hometown team was limited by injuries, he reached multiple milestones in a Reds uniform, including hitting his 400th and 600th home runs with the club as well.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would accomplish something like this,” said Griffey Jr., according to the Associated Press, after hitting No. 500. “All the aches and pains that I had this year were gone for like two minutes while I rounded the bases.”

“The Kid” retired with a career batting average of .284, hitting 630 homers during his 22 seasons with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Aaron McCoy is the public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Leadership Development

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