PEORIA, Ariz. -- The first walk-off grand slam in Ken Griffey Jr.'s Hall of Fame career didn't really count, because it came in a Spring Training game. But it sure brought a big smile to his face on Friday. Griffey's first home run as a 40-year-old came with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.
After getting the green light on a 3-and-0 count and swinging over two consecutive pitches out of the strike zone, Junior sent a full-count fastball from Kip Wells over the fence in right-center, giving Seattle a 6-5 Cactus League win. The first thing he saw when he went around third base was a large crowd waiting for him 90 feet away. "My guys were at home plate," the Mariners' designated hitter said. "That's one of the best feelings in baseball, to see your guys at home plate waiting for you." The Major League's active home run leader with 630, Griffey said afterward that he never had ended a game at any level with a grand slam. "It was just one of those things," said Griffey. "I was just happy to get the ball up in the wind tunnel." It was a windy afternoon at Peoria Stadium, and the hit that ended the game was aided by the wind. But if it hadn't gone out, it might have scored three runs anyway. But the ball snuck over the high fence, out of the reach of Reds right fielder Wladimir Balentien. "Pretty crafty," said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu of Griffey's at-bat. "He set [Wells] up with two balls in the dirt, and hit the home run." Who would have thought?
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.