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2016 Seattle Mariners Advent Calendar - Day 9

Shawn O’Malley goes yard on Ken Griffey Jr. weekend.

Day 9 - O’Malley blasts the biggest hit of his career on the night Seattle retires #24

Before we get to the really good stuff, let’s rewind real quick to Spring Training 2015:

Image from From the Corner of Edgar and Dave

Here’s a picture of Junior with Shawn O’Malley, just a few months after Shawn signed as a free agent with the M’s. As many of you probably know, O’Malley was born and raised in the Tri-Cities and grew up rooting for Junior. He’s been quoted as saying that Griffey was one of his childhood idols. I imagine getting this photo taken was a pretty exciting moment for O’Malley.

Flash forward 17 months and we find ourselves at Safeco Field enjoying a weekend-long celebration for Ken Griffey Jr. On that Saturday, the Mariners officially retired #24. I’m sure most of you remember the fanfare and the pageantry. The tears. The speech.

Keep fighting.

Because we're all rooting for you.

It was INSPIRING stuff. But those good/happy feelings almost didn’t last the evening. Thanks to a terrible start from Taijuan Walker, the Mariners found themselves down 6-2 in the fourth inning against a lousy Angels team. The Mariners managed to scratch across a few more runs but were still trailing 6-5 in the seventh inning. With runners at first and second and two outs, O’Malley found himself behind in the count. And then... WHAM-O!

This was only the third home run of O’Malley’s career (his second in three nights!), but man was it was a big one. This dinger was also the fifth biggest hit of the season (according to WPA) by any Mariner in 2016. That’s pretty impressive in a season that saw the M’s record eight walk-off victories.

Additionally, just for good measure, O’Malley decided to add a wonderful defensive play to his night’s work in the very next inning.

“Wow!” is right, Tom. That’s an excellent play that not very many MLB shortstops will make. It remains to be seen how many starts Shawn will get in 2017, but he’ll always have that special August night in front of a sell-out Safeco crowd and his childhood hero.

Happy holidays and go M’s.