It’s not exactly an ‘action photo’, but 20 years after he made them a household name in baseball cards, Ken Griffey Jr. again sports Mariners gear in upcoming editions of 2009 Upper Deck.
Some thought it was just matter of time. Others figured it would never happen. And still others thought it would make for a great storybook ending to a Hall of Fame career. In the end, Ken Griffey Jr. sided with the latter group and decided to come home again, to the city of Seattle.
On Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Seattle Mariners spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona, Griffey announced he was, indeed, returning to the M’s, the team where his major league career started 21 years ago. After nine seasons of playing big league baseball outside of Seattle – eight with the Reds and last year with the White Sox – Junior’s career has come full circle. Griffey helped put Upper Deck on the map in the late 1980s and the company has already made plans to get him into its 2009 baseball card products. The caompany snapped photos of Junior practicing in Peoria and developed a special illustrated card welcoming back Seattle’s favorite son.
The first of two cards in production will show Junior at the recent press conference and will pack out as a short-printed insert card in 2009 Upper Deck’s MLB Piece of History release, which hits store shelves in early April. The second is a caricature card showing Griffey standing at Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market, awaiting a fish thrown to him by the team’s longtime mascot, the Mariner Moose. This card will be available at select hobby shops across the country as a gift with purchase shortly before Opening Day (April 6).
“Ken Griffey Jr. has meant so much to the Upper Deck Company over the last two decades,” said Jason Masherah, Upper Deck’s senior sports brand manager. “His rookie card basically put us on the map 20 years ago, so it’s our pleasure to be the first company to release updated cards showing Junior returning to his original team: the Seattle Mariners.”
Griffey hit 398 of his career home runs in Seattle and collecting 10 Gold Gloves along the way. He has since entered into one of MLB’s most prestigious group’s – the “600 Home Run Club” – and has maintained his stellar reputation for giving it his all every day out on the baseball diamond.
"I may not hit 50 (home runs),” the 39-year-old Griffey said at the press conference. “I may not hit 40, I may not hit 30. But I can do the little things to help a team win.”
The Mariners are banking on it.