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Grant's Tomb: A family affair

July 27, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

Ken Griffey and his kid we were not.

I'm not sure how many of you realize this, but at almost the same time that Ken Griffey Jr. and his dad were patrolling the outfield for the Seattle Mariners, another father and son duo were making their mark about 300 miles to the south.

My dad and I played together on our church league softball team in Oregon for just two years, but they were certainly memorable ones. He played first base while I started my softball career at the hot corner. I would later move to the outfield and finally to catcher, but it was our time spent in the infield I enjoyed most. I remember fielding the routine grounder and whipping a throw across the diamond to my dad to cut the hitter down before he crossed the bag at first. OK, so that didn't happen all that often, but when it did, it certainly was spectacular.


You see, while Ken Griffey Jr. and senior were both great ballplayers, the Grant's could hardly say that. One of us was really good while the other left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately for me, the one of us who was really good was my father who, despite being in the twilight of his career, still had game.

I'm not telling you that I was all bad. If you think back to one of my earlier columns you can all relive my almost home run. But that was mostly my problem. I was a no-field, all-hit third baseman with warning track power. My dad, on the other hand, was a solid line-drive hitter who, despite having had major back surgery only two years earlier, still played a decent first base.

It was not hard for me to play in the my father's shadow. Actually, if I think about it, I never really knew I was in his shadow. (I was too busy trying to go yard.) You see, I had watched the man play softball for most of my life. I had seen the game in Dallas where he was playing the outfield and stepped on a sprinkler head as he was charging a ball. I had watched as he sucked it up and played the rest of the game with quite a limp. It turned out the ankle was either twisted or broken. He never learned which as he just laid in bed for a couple of weeks instead of going to the doctor.

So I knew I was never going to out-tough the old Aggie. No, I just figured I'd out-hit him and go about my business. With each passing game I would watch as one half of the Grant-to-Grant connection would seethe as the other fired balls over his head, two feet in front of him or straight up the first base line and in to right field.

I have to give the old man credit for one thing and that is he never gave up on any of those horrible throws. Nope, despite the bad back he jumped, dived or chased after every one of them as I stood at third cursing myself and hoping that my Red Sox hat wasn't on crooked. (I was trying to look good for a couple of the older players' daughters who were regulars at the old softball games.)

I guess it wasn't all bad. I do remember a few decent throws that my Pops just had to stand and catch. I also remember a "way to go kid" after I slapped a line drive single to right field to score two runs and helped our team to a win.

And while I was able to provide my father with a few moments of fatherly pride I think that the one thing I did that made him happiest was to move to right field.

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