(Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)
SEATTLE (AP) — Ken Griffey Jr.’s homecoming to Seattle got even sweeter on its final day.
Griffey hit his 583rd and 584th home runs during the Cincinnati Reds’ game Sunday against the Mariners, tying and then passing Mark McGwire for seventh on the career list.
In the first inning, Griffey hit a 2-0 pitch from Miguel Batista to left-center. The slugger took a step and hopped in anticipation of a home run that he had said he hoped to hit this weekend at Safeco Field, “The House that Griffey Built.” The ballpark opened in 1999 — the last full season Griffey played in Seattle before he was traded to his hometown of Cincinnati.As Griffey’s high drive dropped toward the wall, left fielder Willie Bloomquist leaped and appeared to catch it. For an awkward moment, no one knew if Griffey had homered or flied out to end the inning. Third base umpire Brian Runge was in the outfield but made no signal. He looked instead at his crew for help.
Bloomquist had no reaction. Griffey simply stood between first and second. And the third consecutive sellout crowd at Safeco Field stood in odd silence.
Finally, when Bloomquist began walking back to his position without the ball in his glove, Runge signaled home run and the crowd cheered Griffey’s 15th career home run at Safeco Field. The 37-year-old former Seattle icon pointed to the stands behind the Reds’ dugout after he crossed the plate.
His second homer was vintage Griffey, a no-doubt drive in the fifth reminiscent of so many he launched at the since-demolished Kingdome across the street. He jumped all over Batista’s first pitch and sent it rocketing off an advertisement lining the second deck beyond right field for another solo shot.
Griffey dropped his bat immediately and stood for a couple of seconds admiring No. 584. The crowd gasped as the ball soared. Then the fans, many of whom were wearing Griffey Mariners jerseys from his 1990s heyday, roared almost as loudly as they had Friday night when they gave him a 3 1/2 -minute standing ovation during a pregame ceremony to welcome him back to Seattle for the first time since he left in a trade in February 2000.
The homers, his first two against Seattle in six career games, left Griffey two behind Frank Robinson for sixth place. It also gave Griffey 1,654 RBI. That gave him sole possession of 18th place ahead of ex-Red Tony Perez.