The hero MVP Griffey predicted home run, Mariners' teammate Martinez says ZTC

July 15, 1992|By Helene Elliott | Helene Elliott,Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO -- He hefted the trophy with both hands, surprised at its weight but graceful enough not to drop it.

"This thing is heavy," Ken Griffey Jr. said as photographers clamored for him to turn their way and display his prize for being voted the most valuable player in last night's All-Star Game.

No burden seems unbearable for Griffey, who homered, singled and doubled in his three at-bats to lead the AL to its 13-6 victory.

Burdened with carrying a marginally talented Seattle team, he is batting .285 with 15 home runs and 15 RBIs for the sixth-place Mariners despite being hampered by a sprained ligament in his right hand that forced him onto the disabled list last month.

And expected to measure up to the feats of his father, who played on the great Cincinnati Red teams of the 1970s, the younger Griffey is showing signs of equaling his father's exploits and more.

Ken Jr.'s home run during the third inning made the Griffeys the first father and son ever to hit homers in an All-Star game, and his MVP award represented another father-son first. The elder Griffey, who attended last night's game but avoided the postgame crush around his son, won his award for homering in 1980 at Dodger Stadium.

Ken Jr. was 10 at the time, but he never forgot that homer and was proud he could do something his father could remember.

"It means a lot, knowing he played in the All-Star game and he homered, too," said Ken Jr., whose drive against the Cubs' Greg Maddux gave the AL a 6-0 lead. "It's not like I wanted to duplicate what he did -- I just wanted to have fun."

His teammates and manager had fun watching him, and were glad a national television audience could see him.

"He's playing in a market that most people can't see him playing all the time, so it's great to see him display his talent in a game like this," the Oakland Athletics' Mark McGwire said.

"People know his name, but they may not know what he can do. They'll know now."

Said AL Manager Tom Kelly: "He's an excellent hitter, as we all know, and he's an exceptional talent who has a great future. The sky's the limit for him. I'd like to have a whole bunch like him on my team."

Although Edgar Martinez plays with Griffey every day, he still marveled at Griffey's performance.

"It was fun to see him have that kind of game," Martinez said. "Before the game, he said, 'I'm going out,' that he was going to hit a home run. He told me, 'I'm going out today.' I didn't say anything, but I knew he was going to have a chance. It was great to see when he did it, and afterward I went to him and said, 'Man, you told me you were going to hit one and you did.' He just said, 'Yup.' "

Griffey smiled upon hearing that Martinez had made his prediction public. "No comment,'" he said. "I wish he hadn't said that. . . . I have no idea what I hit -- I just swung."

He singled during the first inning, the sixth of a record seven consecutive hits by the AL. He also doubled and scored during the the AL's four-run sixth.

He was taken out of the game before he could try to hit for the cycle, but that didn't bother him. Getting three hits -- the most by one player in an All-Star game since Tim Raines had two singles and a triple at Oakland in 1987 -- was enough.

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