A comment by PositivePaul on Brett's Facebook page last night took me back in time. Basically Paul said he hopes either Brett or me is able to catch a homer from Griffey this season.
Well, I have caught a good number of homers over the years and the cool part is most of them have been Mariner players. Tino was my first but I also have an Edgar, Boone, Sexson, Roberto Kelly, Jose Offerman!, Paul Sorrento and Raul Ibanez just to name a few.
However, I never caught a Griffey homer outside of batting practice. The reason is a pretty simple one. My seats in the Kingdome were in the front row in right field. Griffey hardly ever hit cheapies back in the day. They went into the second or third deck over my head or they were hit more towards centerfield. I saw hundreds of homers off his bat over the years, but rarely was I close to one.
There was the one that got away though and oh how painful a memory it is. It was the next to last game of the 1997 season and Jr. was well on his way to the MVP award. Most people remember this particular game because Lou brought Randy out of the pen in relief of Omar Olivares to get his 20th win.He became the M's first 20 game winner that day because of it.
It just so happened that Griffey also hit his 56th and final homer of the season on that day. It was a shallow shot just to left of my seats off of a pitch from Brad Rigby. I jumped out of my seat and ran over to the spot. I put my glove up and stretched my 5'9" frame out to the ball waiting for the glorious moment. Just as the ball was about to hit my mitt I see an arm reach in front of mine and grab the ball at the last second.
I look over and some guy standing about 6'6" is jumping for joy. I was so pissed I wanted to punch him, but he had a teenage girl with him so I just walked away. Turns out the asshole turned the whole thing into a fiasco as he asked for the moon from the team and Griffey in return for the ball.
I don't know whatever became of that ball, but I know if I had caught it that I would have kept it just like all of the other balls I have caught over the years. Ok I did throw the Lenny Webster one at Norm Charlton and I gave the Kelly one to my cousin, but this one would have been a cherished catch.
As time has gone by I have mostly forgotten that day and how upset I was, but now I have to admit that I do in fact want my Griffey homer. Maybe having a slower bat and weakened muscles will play into my favor this year, who knows. You are back Jr. and as much as I am not all that pumped about it, hit me a damn ball to rectify what was a very sad day for me 12 years ago.