On June 22, 2007, Ken Griffey Jr. and the Cincinnati Reds visited Safeco Field for a three-game series against the Mariners. It was Junior’s first visit to Safeco Field since the end of the 1999 season. Safeco Field was filled to near capacity for each game, as Mariners fans turned out to welcome Griffey back to the Northwest.
“Never did I imagine that it would be like this coming back,” Griffey said before the game on the 22nd. “I didn’t realize how much I missed being in Seattle. This place will be home.”
Two years later, the Kid returned home to cap a Hall of Fame career with the Mariners.
#18 – The Return
“He had not come back to Safeco [Field] since his trade, and I went to Cincinnati to do a story on him coming back and he was genuinely concerned and anxious about how his reception would be. I think he thought he was going to get a poor reception. He came and from the second he stepped onto the field for the three days of that series, it was a total love fest. I think it went far beyond anyone’s expectation. It was 100 percent positive, standing ovation after standing ovation. I sincerley believe that the reception he got in that series is what convinced him that it was right and proper, and it would be a good thing to finish his career with the Mariners.” – Larry Stone
“It was tough leaving. I think the hardest thing for me was coming back in a different uniform, because I didn’t know how people were going to react because I had been gone for six years, seven years. Looking at me in a red uniform instead of a blue uniform. [It was] probably the most antsy I’ve been.” – Ken Griffey Jr.
Visit Mariners.com/24stories to check out a new story each day as we count down to Junior’s number retirement at Safeco Field on August 6.