Last Wednesday, when Ken Griffey Jr. called it quits, he took with him one of the purest left handed swings that ever graced the game.
For his career, Griffey hit 630 home runs, carried a .284 batting average and fell a couple of seasons short of 3000 hits…finishing with 2781.
Naturally, Junior faired better at the plate against right handed pitchers rather than lefties. One left-hander that seemed to do alright against Griffey was Texas Rangers starter C.J. Wilson.
Head-to-head, the pair squared off only eight times with Wilson getting the best of the future Hall of Famer, striking him out twice and only allowing one hit. I had the chance to catch up with Wilson between starts and asked him about Ken Griffey Jr.
HOVG: Everyone has a favorite memory of Griffey and most of them will get played over and over in the summer of 2016 when he gets enshrined in Cooperstown. What is your favorite memory of Junior?
CJ: My favorite memory is probably that catch he made in the Kingdome. Full sprint into a huge leap...smashing into the wall. (Check out this video of Junior picking some of his favorite catches)
HOVG: You’re playing in an era and a league now that is so full of stars. Where does Junior rank all-time...or among those from his generation?
CJ: Junior is obviously one of the best players of all-time, he's the Willie Mays of his generation.
HOVG: Fifth all-time in home runs, ten straight Gold Gloves and a perennial MVP candidate while in Seattle…what kind of legacy does Junior leave behind?
CJ: To me, he goes down as the best "clean" player of his generation.
HOVG: You faced Griffey twice in 2007 and six more times last season, what were your thoughts when you saw Griffey coming up to the plate?
CJ: I always looked forward to facing him. The first time, I was determined to strike him out. And I did! It was a career highlight for sure
C.J. Wilson is currently tied for the team high in wins for the Texas Rangers. In his first full year as a starter, Wilson is 5-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts. He has 56 strikeouts in 76 innings.
Last summer, Wilson did a full length interview with The Hall (you can read it HERE) and is a Twitter Tuesday favorite. You can catch up with him over at his own site, LeftyLefty.com.