Thursday, August 18, 2022
Ken Griffey Sr.: An Icon in Baseball and Health
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published February 15, 2017
Ken Griffey Jr. (left) and Ken Griffey Sr. (Bill Chan/AP)

Ken Griffey Jr. (left) and Ken Griffey Sr. (Bill Chan/AP)

“August 31, 1990 is when I played my first game with my son. We played against Kansas City,” said baseball legend Ken Griffey, Sr. about the time he played alongside his son, hall of famer Ken Griffey, Jr. on the Seattle Mariners. Both father and son scored a single at their first time at bat.

“I had to imagine that he was just 12 and we were in the backyard playing baseball,” Griffey Sr. said. “But, he’s this big time star in Seattle. That didn’t hit me until a little later on, how much he was a big star.”

George Kenneth Griffey Sr. had an iconic 18-year run in Major League Baseball as a right fielder, winning the World Series twice, becoming a three-time MLB All Star and being the first player in Major League Baseball to play with his son on the same team. Griffey, a prostate cancer survivor, is an advocate for Men Who Speak Up and talks to people throughout the United States about the importance of getting prostate exams.


Griffey Sr. was born in Donora, Pennsylvania in 1950. In high school, Griffey Sr. participated in football, track and field, basketball and baseball. After high school, Griffey Sr. went into the 1969 amateur baseball draft and was picked by the Cincinnati Reds in the 29th round.

In August 1973, Griffey debuted in his first major league game. Two years later, he started for the Reds, hitting at .305 in his first starting season. Cincinnati won back-to-back world championships in 1975 and 1976. Griffey Sr. also hit his career batting average of .336 and hits of 189 in 1976.

Griffey Sr. was traded to the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves before returning to the Reds. The young, championship-bound squad respected Griffey, referring to him as “Gramps.” During the 1990 season, Griffey Sr. was released from the team, but was signed to the Mariners for the historic run with his son.

Both Griffey, Sr. and Griffey, Jr. scored a home run for the first time on September 14, 1990.

After retiring in 1991, the son and father would team up again for the sake of health and wellness. The Griffeys became representatives for Men Who Speak Up, a prostate cancer prevention initiative by Bayer. Fighting against advanced prostate cancer was a characteristic that Griffey Sr. learned from his mother. He started getting prostate exams at 35-years-old.

“My mother was instrumental in making sure that we took care of ourselves,” he said. “She lost four brothers from prostate cancer.”


In 2006, Griffey, Sr. was diagnosed with the disease, but early detection aided him in getting rid of prostate cancer. Griffey, Sr. travels through cities in the U.S., motivating men to get a prostate exam at least once a year. Griffey, Jr. would join him in his talks at events and panels.

“A lot of men do not talk about prostate cancer at all,” Griffey, Sr. said, “I’m trying to get them to do that, especially to their doctors if they haven’t.”

His motivation to remain free from cancer was so he can be there for his 18 grandchildren as they aspire to be athletes.

“I wanted to be around to see them play,” Griffey, Sr. said. “To me, I’d rather see my grandkids for a long time, as long as I possibly can, playing sports and enjoying their lives.”

To get more information about the Griffeys advocacy and the symptoms of prostate cancer, visit


Categories: History (Sports) | Sports
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