1) Ken Griffey Jr. (1989-1999, 2009-2010)
This might be one of the least dramatic number-one reveals in all of countdown-dom. There is no question that Ken Griffey Jr. is the greatest to ever wear “Mariners” across his chest, but where do we start?
He was drafted by Seattle first overall in 1987, broke into the league at age 19 in 1989 and hit 16 home runs his rookie year. He would skyrocket from there.
The next season was Griffey’s first All-Star bid, as he hit .300 with 22 home runs and also won his first of 10 Gold Gloves. He made history the next season as well, after Ken Griffey Sr. joined the team and they became the first ever father-son duo to hit back-to-back home runs.
He made another leap towards greatness in 1993 when he maintained a .309 batting average, while mashing 45 home runs and accumulating 109 RBI and a 1.025 OPS. He had an incredible six 40+ home run seasons with Seattle.
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The 1995 season is what likely etched him into immortality among Seattle fans. There were rumors the Mariners might be relocated, as the Kingdome was becoming more and more obsolete.
The Mariners had never made the playoffs and were rather underwhelming since there first season in 1977. The start of the ’95 season was marred by injury for Griffey.
However, he came back with a vengeance during the playoffs. He ended up hitting .391 with five home runs in that Division Series against the Yankees, including scoring the series-clinching run on “The Double” by Edgar.
That play saved baseball in Seattle as the excitement from the season got the ball rolling for the construction of Safeco Field, which is unofficially “The House that Griffey Built.” Edgar might have gotten the clutch hit, but without Griffey getting his speed on base ahead of him, that moment doesn’t happen.
He finally won the MVP in 1997 after a season with 56 home runs and 147 RBI, a .304 average and another Gold Glove. He had a mind-blowing 56 home runs in back-to-back seasons, as he repeated the number in 1998.
After the 1999 season, Griffey was traded to the Reds in order to play closer to home, as he is a well-known family man. It was a departure of mutual respect.
Although hampered by injury in Cincinnati, he still managed to swat 30+ home runs in three seasons there. In 2009, he returned for a season and a half-long farewell tour.
Griffey hit 19 home runs for the Mariners, while finally playing at beautiful Safeco Field. He actually hit 29 career home runs at Safeco.
He would retire in the middle of the 2010 season atop the Mariners leaderboard in many stats including home runs (417) and WAR (70.4). He finished his illustrious career with 630 home runs, sixth all-time, just behind the iconic Willie Mays’ 660 mark.
This past season he was the highest vote-getter in Baseball Hall of Fame history, with 99.3 percent of the vote. He was inducted in July and came “home” in August for a fantastic weekend that I had the privilege of witnessing with my own eyes.
Griffey became the first Mariner ever to have his number retired and his #24 sits next to Jackie Robinson’s universally-retired #42 in left-center field. There may never be another ballplayer, much less Mariner, quite like The Kid.
What’s your take on our top 50 Mariners of all time? Do you agree with the order? Further, is there anyone else you believe is worthy of inclusion? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.