Griffey’s eight-game homer streak electrifies baseball
Ken Griffey Jr. had burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old prodigy in 1989 and was a three-time All-Star by the end of the 1992 season.
But in 1993, Griffey ascended into the upper echelon of sports icons – a place he seemed destined from the start.
On July 28, 1993, Griffey homered in his eighth straight game to tie the all-time big league record. The mark was set by the Pirates’ Dale Long in 1956 and matched by the Yankees’ Don Mattingly in 1987, but Griffey’s run at the record seemed to be different.
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With the national media documenting his every plate appearance, Griffey was writing his legend. “He can do things other guys can’t do,” Mariners teammate Tino Martinez told the Associated Press. “He’s playing way above everybody else in baseball right now.”
Griffey began the streak on July 20 with an eighth-inning home run off New York’s Paul Gibson at Yankee Stadium. He homered the next day off Jimmy Key and connected for the third straight game July 22 off Jeff Mutis when the Mariners moved on to Cleveland to take on the Indians.
By the fourth game – which featured a sixth-inning home run off Albie Lopez for Griffey’s 26th home run of the season – the media had begun to take note. It was Griffey’s second four-game homer streak of the season following a stretch from June 20-23.
Griffey homered in his fifth consecutive game on July 25 off Matt Young, then completed his domination of the Indians series with a homer off José Mesa on July 26 in front of a Sunday crowd of 54,378 at Cleveland Stadium.
“They always say home runs come in streaks,” Griffey told the Associated Press after his sixth straight game with a home run. “I pay no attention. I just go up there and hit, use all the ballpark as much as I can.” After an off day, the Mariners returned to Seattle to play the Twins on July 27 – and Griffey homered in the third inning off Kevin Tapani to come within one of the record. The next night, Griffey took Willie Banks deep in the seventh inning to tie Long and Mattingly.
At 23 years old, Griffey was on top of the baseball world. “He is going to be the next Michael Jordan,” Tigers manager Sparky Anderson told Gannett News Service. Griffey fell short of setting a new standard of nine straight games with a homer, going 2-for-4 with a double in four plate appearances against Scott Erickson and Larry Casian on July 29 in front of 45,607 fans at the Kingdome – 30,220 of whom bought tickets on game day. “On that last swing, I tried so hard to do it for the fans here,” Griffey told the Associated Press about his at-bat against Casian in the seventh inning that resulted in a popup to Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. “I didn’t want to let them down.”
Griffey finished the season with 45 home runs, 109 RBI and an American League-leading 359 total bases. In six seasons from 1994-99, Griffey would lead the AL in home runs four times. He ended his big league career with 630 home runs over 22 seasons and earned election to the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum