Seventeen years ago today Ken Griffey Jr stepped into the batters box at Camden Yards, Mariners pro cap turned backwards, and roped a homer off of the warehouse beyond the right field yard. He was the first player to hit the warehouse and no one has done it since.
And, although he didn't win the Home Run Derby that year he knocked a shot out of the stadium and into the imagination of sports fans around from Baltimore to Seattle. The next season Griffey did win a HR Derby, his first of three, the same week he scored more All-Star votes than anyone in history. That same year, 1994, he hit 40 jacks before the strike shortened season ended his best shot at breaking Roger Maris' iconic '61' record. The Kid still had a few great seasons before winding down the second half of his career riddled with injuries (mostly sustained while hustling for fly balls or trying to pick up an extra base) in Cincinnati, eventually retiring as a member of the Mariners earlier this season.
In an era dominated by juiced-up superstars who have left a gaping hole in the hearts of fans, Griffey kept clean and stayed legit. Although probably no one would have benefited more from the quick recovery impact from HGH and steroids, Junior, by all accounts, played by the rules, and earned a special place in the hearts of baseball fans from even his teams most fierce rivals. Unfortunately Major League Baseball's reluctency to acknowledge the "Steroid Era", means they can't give Griffey the honor he is due, so we plan to take that on ourselves.
Project Franchise and SB Nation are all about the fan, we are hoping to honor the true fan favorite this month in epic fashion by retiring his style as a world record. On July 24th we are encouraging fans to join us in paying special tribute to The Kid by turning their hat backwards, snapping a pic and sharing it in our online photo gallery as we attempt to set the record for The Most Backwards Hats Worn. To get involved and join the cause, sign up for more info and we'll send you an email just before the big day with all of the details.
To help hype up the record attempt, we'll be in Anaheim tonight for the 2010 version of the Home Run Derby promoting it to a national audience of fans of the long-ball. If you're going to be in attendance this eve, be sure to send us an email to team[at[projectfranchise[dot]org or leave a comment below and we'll send you the details for our tailgate. And to really get in the spirit, you can pick up one of our sweet commemorative Tee's @ www.fan-fits.com, where all the proceeds go towards purchasing our fan-run minor league franchise.