Griffey moves into tie for fifth on HR list
First long ball since joining White Sox is 609th, matches Sosa
CHICAGO -- The first extra-base hit for Ken Griffey Jr. as a member of the White Sox made history on Wednesday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
When Griffey launched a 2-2 pitch from R.A. Dickey into the right-field stands with two outs in the second, he scored Carlos Quentin ahead of him for an 8-0 White Sox advantage. That's not the history part of the story.
This blast represented the 609th home run of Griffey's illustrious career, tying him with one-time White Sox and Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa for fifth on the all-time list. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (660) have gone deep more frequently than Griffey.
As he has done in the past, Griffey downplayed the individual accomplishment with a smile on his face while talking in front of his locker.
"Pretty much everyone knows that growing up in a household where the dad is a professional baseball player, the last thing you talk about is baseball," Griffey said. "So you understand history, but you don't dwell on it, because the father-and-son relationship is more important than the numbers.
"I don't really worry about that. Everybody else does. I'm more concerned about getting hits and getting on base. You get hits, and home runs happen. But it is good to get the first one at home."
Entering the second inning of Wednesday's 15-3 destruction of the Mariners, Griffey had gone 46 consecutive at-bats without a home run. One of those at-bats came in the first inning, when his single to right scored the second run of a six-run frame for the White Sox.
All 10 of Griffey's hits had gone for singles, before he connected off the Seattle knuckleballer. The team gave Griffey the collective cold shoulder when he reached the dugout, but the seasoned pro knew how to handle this particular good-natured snub.
"As soon as the first guy doesn't get up ..." said Griffey with a smile. "You saw me take off into the tunnel? They weren't expecting that. Veteran move."
"We were just having a little fun," White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome added. "It was great. It was nice to see him have a great day. It was awesome."
Griffey's teammates echoed Thome's elated sentiment, not seeming overly worried about Griffey's lack of power with the White Sox prior to Wednesday.
"He's been swinging the bat well," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who has 288 home runs. "He's been hitting the ball hard, but hitting them on a line. We don't need to worry about him -- he's hit enough of them to prove he can do it. But he's been driving in runs even if he doesn't hit [homers], so he's been getting the job done."
"It really feels like a dream right now that I don't want to wake up from, to be on the same lineup as a Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome," added Alexei Ramirez, who joined Griffey with one of the White Sox four home runs on Wednesday. "In certain lineups, he's been hitting behind me, and it's an absolute honor to be in the same lineup with those guys."
Griffey and Thome, who has 532 career home runs, stand as the first 600/500 teammates in Major League history. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only Mays had more home runs (646) at the time of an in-season trade.
All of these home run numbers don't seem to impress Griffey, at least not during his quest for a World Series title, the one honor that has eluded the Hall of Fame-bound slugger and a primary reason he agreed to the trade to the White Sox. In Griffey's mind, Wednesday's 390-foot blast was pretty much just another hit and two more RBIs.
"I've watched Sammy throughout the years," Griffey said. "Tying him, it's OK, I guess."
"I'm sure it felt good for him, even with as many as he's hit," Konerko added.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.