I’ll never forget it. I probably still have the newspaper clipping that my grandma cut out for me somewhere in my basement, along with the rest of my baseball cards and memorabilia from my childhood.
18 years ago this past weekend, the Reds fortunes were supposed to change. Griffey was the end-all-be-all baseball star of the 90’s. Shoes, magazines, video games, television commercials. Griffey was everything. If you grew up in the 90’s, you were a fan of Michael Jordan, and you were a fan of Junior. I turned 14 two weeks after he signed to my hometown team, and got two different Griffey jerseys for my birthday. The city was buzzing with Reds talk, and dreams of another World Series run, which hadn’t happened in a decade.
If you’re a Cincinnati fan, you already know how this story ends. Griffey is no longer “The Kid” he was in Seattle. He’s often injured, and just not producing like he was the first 10 years of his Hall of Fame career. We never made the playoffs in his 8 seasons with the club. Shit, we only had one winning season during his time here, before we traded him away. He probably unfairly gets blamed for the woes of the team during his time here, but it’s hard to change a narrative like that when you’re supposed to save a franchise.
The great thing about baseball is that every Spring, that buzz starts to re-emerge with the promise of the upcoming season. Pitchers and catchers are about to report, and I still get excited as I was back then that baseball would be back soon. This just may be the year that Cincinnati has been waiting for since 1990. Junior is long gone, but the hopes and dreams of a collective city are still here, waiting.