Lost in the hullabaloo surrounding the Armando Galarraga “perfect” game was the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr. just hours before.
“I've come to a decision today to retire from Major League Baseball as an active player,” Griffey said in a statement released by the Seattle Mariners Wednesday.
With 630 career home runs and ten straight Gold Gloves to his credit, Junior was a multi-faceted player who could beat you at the plate or in the field.
One pitcher who had his number was former Kansas City Royals closer and good friend of The Hall of Very Good Jeff Montgomery. I had a chance to catch up with “Monty” to get his thoughts on “The Kid”.
HOVG: Griffey only notched four hits in his 17 plate appearances against you, what were your thoughts when you saw him coming up to the plate?
MONTY: This is the one player in the lineup I will not let beat me.
HOVG: Throughout your 13 year playing career, you faced many of the 90’s top players. In your opinion, where does Junior rank all-time...or among those from his generation?
MONTY: If not at the top, very near the top. He could win a game with his bat, his glove, his arm or his speed.
HOVG: Everyone will carry with them a lasting image of Griffey in their head, be it the spectacular catches in centerfield, that swing or his smile from the bottom of the dogpile in 1995 versus the Yankees. What is your favorite memory of Junior?
MONTY: After announcing that I would retire at the end of the 1999 season, Junior asked me if I would give him a signed jersey…which I did. The next day in our clubhouse was an autographed Griffey jersey.
HOVG: After a 22-year career, what kind of legacy does Ken Griffey Jr. leave behind?
MONTY: He was one of the best to play the game and did it with great flair. He was able to have a long and productive career that was never tarnished by anything.
In 17 matchups spanning nine seasons, Griffey batted .250 (4 for 16) against Montgomery. “Monty” was able to get Griffey out to end the game on three separate occasions and not once did the slugger take the closer deep.
They shared the All-Star stage three times in 1992, 1993 and 1996.
Currently, Jeff Montgomery resides in the Kansas City area and lends his expertise to Sports Radio 810 WHB-AM. He is a member of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame and their all-time leader in games pitched, games finished and saves.
“Monty” is no stranger to The Hall of Very Good. In the past year or so, he’s stopped by to share his thoughts on “The Age of the Closer” (HERE and HERE), Opening Day jitters and playing in the Mid-Season Classic.