My grandmother was never a baseball fan, but she did like to tell people that she once went to see Babe Ruth play.
Needless to say, I never saw Ruth. But I did see Ken Griffey Jr., and I do find it somehow appropriate that 75 years to the day after Ruth announced his retirement, Griffey announced his.
He was a great player, maybe the best I've seen in 20-plus years covering the major leagues. He was a great showman, maybe the best I've seen at that, too. He wasn't always perfect, and his career didn't end without some controversy.
But neither did Ruth's.
The day Ruth retired, the New York Times said that Braves manager Bill McKechnie had asked the team to release him a few days earlier. Ruth, according to the account, "said he had been 'double-crossed'" by club president Emil E. Fuchs. He announced that he would ask to go on the voluntarily retired list, and the Braves released him.
Oh, and Ruth was hitting .181 at the time.
Years later, we don't remember how it ended. We remember the Babe, the home runs, the legends.
Just as we'll remember Griffey's home runs, his catches, and the 1995 slide across home plate that beat the Yankees in the playoffs and saved baseball in Seattle. We'll remember that through the 1990s, there wasn't a better all-around player in the game. There wasn't a more exciting player in the game.
We'll remember the day he played in the Mariners outfield alongside his father, and the day he returned to the Mariners so that he could end his career where it began.
"I was raised in Cincinnati," Griffey said last spring. "But I grew up here."
"He IS the Seattle Mariners," Jay Buhner told the Seattle Times that week.
Griffey is the Mariners, but he's more than that.
If you saw him play, you didn't forget him.
And some day, you'll be telling your grandkids.