On the heels of Gary Coleman's death and only days before my 28th (late mid-twenties) birthday, I really didn't need the retirement of my childhood sports icon to make me feel any older than I already do. But, the coming weeks will surely be a chance to relive some of the Kid's most memorable moments, and give some of the younger fans a glimpse at Griffey during his first stint in Seattle. That way they will know who us old timers are talking about when Chris Young, Bryce Harper and other future favorites are compared to Ken Griffey Jr.
Over the next few days there will be countless articles about the stats, the injuries, the "what might have been." The Steroid Era will come up and the talking heads will squawk about "playing the game the right way." Griffey's career will be dissected and put under a microscope as fans and sport writers alike struggle to rank Griffey amongst the all time greats. All of that stuff is secondary right now. Bottom line, Griffey's dynamic combo of personality and extraordinary talent made baseball cool for a generation. That's not always easy to do, as baseball doesn't seem to influence pop culture as much as the NBA or even NFL. He made playing defense cool, in a time when power hitters ruled the day. He took center field and made that a marquee position usually reserved for pitchers and shortstops. He even made baseball uniforms look cool, even though unis haven't really changed much since Honus Wagner sported one. He took those uncomfortable, unflattering, made of seasonally inappropriate fabric uniforms and made me want to wear it to the beach in July. He did the seemingly impossible, when he rocked a turtleneck on his rookie card and immediately made it a "must have". Of course, the "Kid's" trademark was the backwards hat...independently cool, but Junior made it cooler.
As a show of appreciation for Griffey Jr., the ProjectFranchise.Org and Front Office Fans teams have decided to rock backwards hats on June 24th in the hopes that this campaign snowballs, and maybe.....just maybe, MLB will honor Junior along with us on June 24th and urge all fans at major league games to turn their caps around for an inning. I'm sure there's a Guinness World Record to be broken in there somewhere. Let's harness the power of SBNation and make it happen - and if you aren't a doctor (or some other type of job where wearing a backwards fitted to work is highly inappropriate), then email us (Team[at]ProjectFranchise[dot]org) or Fanpost a pic of yourself honoring Griff on June 24 and we'll add you to our Flickr Gallery.
NOTE- Technically, it looks like we may have to aim for setting a record rather than breaking it, since I haven't been able to find a backward hat record to "break" unless you count the silly version of my little league team picture. In which case the current record is 12.