In 1996, only rain could stop Griffey
A rain delay can be a ballplayer’s best friend. It can bail out a pitcher, securing a victory with trouble on the bases and a blown save looming. It can cancel an early blowout, offering a team the chance to start fresh the next day.
Or, as Ken Griffey Jr. learned in 1996, it can nullify statistical achievements and rob a player of a historic milestone.
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On Sept. 6 of that year, Griffey hit his 44th home run of the season – a first-inning solo shot off Cleveland’s Jack McDowell at Jacobs Field. Three games back of the Wild Card spot and six behind Texas in the division, the 72-67 Mariners were hovering around contention. Griffey, meanwhile, had remained a dominant force at the plate, hitting .300 with five home runs, 12 walks and 17 RBI in his previous 14 games.
Forty-nine home runs, combined with a .303 average, 16 stolen bases and 140 RBI, made for a terrific campaign nonetheless. Griffey finished fourth in American League MVP voting while winning his fourth Silver Slugger Award and seventh consecutive Gold Glove Award. And 50 home runs wouldn’t elude the young phenom for long, as he smashed 56 in each of the next two seasons.
Griffey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Justin Alpert was the 2023 social media intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development