Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., shown Jan. 7, 2016, spent his first 11 MLB seasons with the Seattle Mariners, helping the club win two American League West titles. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 25 (UPI) — Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. has become part of the Seattle Mariners’ ownership group.
Mariners chairman John Stanton announced Monday that Griffey bought shares from another minority owner who still retains a stake in the MLB club.
“On behalf of all of the partners, I want to welcome Ken,” Stanton said in a statement. “Ken has been an icon of our franchise, on and off the field, for over three decades and we are thrilled that he is joining us as a partner.
“His knowledge of the game, love of the Mariner fans, his experiences as a player, his passion for community service and his desire to help grow our sport will be a welcome, and invaluable, additional voice.”
The Mariners selected Griffey with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 amateur draft. Less than two years later, the slugger made his big league debut and quickly transformed into one of baseball’s biggest stars.
The 51-year-old Griffey spent his first 11 seasons in Seattle, helping the Mariners to a pair of American League West titles. Nicknamed “The Kid,” the 13-time All-Star selection went on to capture the 1997 AL Most Valuable Player Award and 10 Gold Gloves.
“As I said in my Hall of Fame speech, I’m very proud to be a Seattle Mariner,” Griffey said in a statement. “I’m excited for this incredible opportunity to join John and the rest of the Mariners partnership group. This is a dream come true because of the relationship I’ve always had with the team, its fans and the city of Seattle.
“I view this as another way to continue to give back to an organization and community that has always supported me and my family. I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute to this organization’s success in any way possible.”
Griffey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds after the 1999 season and spent parts of nine seasons with the franchise. He played half of the 2008 campaign with the Chicago White Sox after the Reds dealt him at the trade deadline.
The seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner returned to the Mariners for the end of his career in 2009. He also played in the 2010 season for Seattle before retiring at age 40.
After his retirement, Griffey became an ambassador for the Mariners, holding an official title of special consultant to the franchise. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2013 and enshrined in Cooperstown in 2016.
“Ken is the second new investing partner in the Seattle Mariners in the last 30 years, and the first in over 20 years,” Stanton said. “When we look at any issue with the Mariners, we start with what our mission is.
“Our mission is to win championships, to delight our fans and to serve our communities, and Ken joining the partnership helps us do all three things.”
Griffey ended his MLB career with a .284 batting average, 630 home runs, 1,836 RBIs and 2,781 hits. His 630 homers rank seventh in baseball history.
Last year, Griffey joined the ownership group of the Seattle Sounders, who compete in Major League Soccer.