In the ’90s, there was the Michael Jordan fadeaway, the Deion Sanders touchdown dance and Ken Griffey’s home run swing. And when “The Kid” hit the warehouse behind Camden Yards at the 1993 Home Run Derby, one of the more indelible moments in sports was forever etched in history.
Lost in the aura of that particular home run was the fact Juan Gonzalez of the Texas Rangers and his awesome jerhi-curl mullet edged Griff out by one long ball to take home the title (Junior would eventually win in ’94, ’98 and ’99). Yet, not a soul in baseball made that afternoon or even the game itself – for as trivial as it sounds – “cooler” than Ken Griffey, Jr. There was no perceived weakness in his repertoire of skills and from the outside looking in he appeared to be as humble and approachable as he came off on TV.
The backwards cap, the aforementioned swing, the nonchalant laugh upon learning he hit the warehouse? Every kid in America that summer was presented with the impossible task of trying to be “like Mike” (coming off a third straight NBA title, his dad had not yet been murdered and was still months away from his first retirement) and somehow be “like Griffey.” Hell, probably some adults, too.
The story of the original #24 and the totality of his career is well-known as one of the greatest “what if’s” in the history of anything sports-related. And while Junior could never conquer the injury bug which plagued the second half of his career or capture that elusive World Series ring, he had long since won over the respect and love of a generation. My generation.
Even today, part of me still wants to find the nearest batting cage and mimic that destiny-filled afternoon in Baltimore 20 years ago. But I can’t right now. If luck is on my side, however, these Griffey Air Max’s and this Mariners fitted cap should serve as a respectable replacement tribute. One time for “The Kid,” y’all.
Props: TSS regular Select on dropping the link to this video months ago. It was kept in the stash for this very moment.
Photos: Getty Images