Alberta Griffey: The Walkoff Walk Interview

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griffey mom.jpgThe 2008 season has been a renaissance for fan appreciation of Ken Griffey Jr. His 600th home run allowed for some reflection and perspective on his career. Everyone knows the story. Young phenom with huge expectations, fufills those expectations, returns to the team where his family legacy is, career gets hampered by injuries. It's a testament to his skill that no other first ballot Hall Of Famer and member of the 600 HR club will ever have a "what if" conversation about them.

Griffey has always seemed like a likable guy but apart from some stories about locker room pranks and the jock strap incident last year, I'd never felt like I had a real handle on his personality. Well, what better way is there to learn about someone than talking to their mom? Last week, I sat down with my telephone and talked to the first lady in Ken's life, his mother Alberta Griffey.

CTC: So you're up in Cincinnati for the Reds' tribute to Ken's 600th homer. What was that like?

Alberta Griffey: It was very nice. There was a message from Hank Aaron and a message from Willie Mays. I didn't think I could go originally, but they called me yesterday morning and got everything done really quickly. I'm good at packing fast and was on a flight at 11 yesterday morning. We ended up leaving the game early because he said he wasn't going to play. Junior lives close to the stadium and we can just walk back there. Then when I got home I saw that he pinch hit and I wanted to kill him.

CTC: Ha. You shouldn't lie to your mom. What did this milestone mean to Ken? What did it mean to you?

AG: Nothing. Junior's never really cared that much about setting the records. He says that if he breaks them, that's what they're made for but it's not his goal. When he trying to make the Mariners he set 15 rookie spring training records. I thought that was amazing. 15! And that was one of the only times Junior's played a prank on me.

On the day when they were making the last cuts Ken (Sr.) called me up and told me I should probably go to camp to see Junior if he didn't make the team. I was thinking, "How are they not gonna put him on the team, he broke 15 records." But since he was so young I thought there might be a chance, so I went. I was in the hotel when he came back in and he just looked at me sad and said he didn't make it and I went crazy! Then he smiled and laughed and said he made the team. They knew he was going to make it.

CTC: Junior is known for his pranks. Do you have a favorite one?

AG: Probably the one with the cow in Lou (Piniella)'s office.

CTC: I don't know that one.

AG: Oh, no! Well Junior and Lou had made some bet where the loser had to buy a steak dinner for the other one. Well Junior lost the bet. One day Ken was driving home and he saw a field with some cows in it so he got the idea. He went to the owners and told them what he wanted to do, and they liked it. So they put the cow in a truck and took it to Lou's office. When he came back there was the cow next to his desk!

CTC: I'm sure Lou took that well. He doesn't have a temper or anything.

AG: He thought it was funny. They were always doing stuff like that.

CTC: What was Ken like as a kid?

AG: All his teachers used to compliment me on how I raised him. They'd always say, "You know Ken never talks about how his Dad is a ballplayer, he never trades on that." That always made me proud.

CTC: You hear a lot about him being in the clubhouse as a kid. What was that like for him?

AG: He wasn't in the clubhouse that much.

CTC: Oh, so that's kind of a misconception?

AG: Yeah, I mean Ken would take the kids in there sometimes, but not very much. Never after they lost because the guys on the team would be mad and cussing and Ken didn't want them around that. They'd go in sometimes when they won, but not very much.

CTC: How about when Junior and Senior played together on the Mariners? That must have been a trip.

AG: Oh my god. Ken and Junior's habits were so much alike. They warmed up the same way they did everything the same. I remember on TV they had a split screen of them just walking up the dugout steps the same. I was like "You have got to be kidding me," haha. It's gone away a little bit as Junior's gotten older. He's developed his own habits. Now people say "Oh my god he looks just like his mother."

CTC: What did it mean to you when he went to play for the Reds?

AG: It cut back on my traveling time! Back when he was with Seattle I'd know that if I was going to go see him anywhere I'd have to pack two suitcases. But now I can just pack one which is good. I only bring a carry on because a little while back they put my Louis Vuitton underneath the plane and they cut it and I said, "No way. No one is cutting my Louis Vuitton ever again."

CTC: Yeah I wouldn't wanna mess with your stuff. You sound tough.

AG: Haha. Yeah now if I have to put anything underneath I do it in a regular bag.

CTC: How does Ken deal with the rash of injury problems he's had in Cincinnati?

AG: The thing about Junior's injuries is that all but one of them have happened on the field while running or trying to make a play. He plays so hard and that's why he's gotten hurt. No one really mentions that when they talk about the injuries. I think sometimes he tries to come back too soon too, but he hates being off the field. He keeps his own positive attitude.

CTC: There have been rumors swirling around. Is Ken coming back to Florida (where Alberta lives)?

AG: Oh you know they're always talking about (the Reds) making trades and breaking down the team every year. But it doesn't happen. They say that every year, you can't believe the rumors.

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Great work! She sounds like a fantastic lady.

The interview reads (in a good way) like you guys randomly ran into each other while waiting for a flight. Nicely done.

Nicely done, CTC. I never knew so much about luggage!

It certainly went better than an encounter with Steve Grilli

Did she send you that pic??? Hottt!

I'm waiting for the part where you bump into each other and she calles you an asshole.

Awww, so nice. Well done.


Alberta Griffey was somewhere between 1,000,000 and 25,000,000 times nicer than Jim Leyland.

I'm sure Lou took that well. He doesn't have a temper or anything.

How did she not haha at that?

That's totally cool, CTC.

"No way. No one is cutting my Louis Vuitton ever again."



Nice job on this man, great read.

An interview? Since when did you guys take this site seriously? Do we have to take this site seriously now?

great interview! just make sure you don't start drunk dialing mrs. griffey after a few high lifes now that you have her digits...

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