And for Ken Griffey, Sr., a man who just four years ago was diagnosed with prostate cancer, this is definitely great news.
Fully recovered and feeling strong, the elder Griffey has joined other sport legends Len Dawson, Rod Woodson, Jim Kelly and (one of my personal favorites) Ozzie Smith in the Depend Campaign to End Prostate Cancer, a movement which educates the public on this important men’s health issue.
By sharing his own personal story, Griffey, Sr. hopes to help quell this potentially devastating disease. “I was diagnosed early. To me, that’s the most important thing: to get diagnosed early. Because then there’s treatment and it’s pretty much curable.”
Griffey was fortunate enough to know this before he was diagnosed, so the fight against the disease began long before he actually acquired it.
“My doctor explained to me that I was a strong candidate for it because of the fact that it was in my family. I had four uncles that passed from prostate cancer. My doctor was very cautious about it, making sure that with each physical I was tested for it.”
Today, not only is Griffey, Sr. spreading the message against prostate cancer, he’s also living life to the fullest, working every day as the hitting coach for the minor league Dayton Dragons, and reflecting on his own illustrious Major League career.
“Getting the opportunity to play with Junior, hitting the back-to-back homeruns with Junior, being world champions with the Cincinnati Reds… those are the major highlights of my career.”
In light of his son’s recent retirement from baseball, when asked about how long it took for Senior to transition he replied: “It didn’t take me long!”
Of course, Senior’s was a decision forced by injury. “For Junior, it was a decision based on the fact that he wasn’t getting the opportunity to play. He sat out for ten games or something like that. We had talked about it last winter. We discussed it. And I think he felt pretty good about the idea of coming home to be with the family.”
And as one legend leaves the game, a new sensation potentially takes his place in Stephen Strasburg. Not since Ken Griffey, Jr. came up in 1989 has there been more buzz about a rookie phenom than there is right now about Strasburg.
“Yeah, that’s exactly right. When Junior came into the league, everyone wanted to see him play.”
Did they ever. One would have to be from another planet to not know how colossally good Junior’s career was, how he became an idol for the masses, how he used class and composure to solidify his future place in the Hall of Fame.
Indeed, Strasburg has a long way to go. But Ken Griffey, Sr. does see the potential: “From what I’ve seen, he has a tremendous career ahead of him… if he stays healthy.”
Then, with a deep-hearted chuckle reminiscent of one who has overcome adversity and seen baseball legends come and go, Senior said:
“I’ve seen him on T.V. But I couldn’t tell you much about how he pitches unless I face him.”
Ken Griffey, Sr. has faced an obstacle or two before. And I’m pretty sure that if he strapped on the cleats today, he’d still have plenty of fight in him.
For more information on how you can join Ken Griffey, Sr. in the fight against prostate cancer, please visit the Depend website.
(by Jeffery Lung)
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Special thanks to Kristin Adams from Taylor PR for arranging the interview with Ken Griffey Sr.
This was the first time I ever spoke to a baseball legend on the phone, so to say I was excited about it doesn’t quite relay just how excited I was. Think Erin-Andrews-in-my-living room-like excited.