The Hot Stone League
Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners too.
February 18, 2009 9:10 PM
Posted by Larry Stone
Many of you have probably heard the story by now, but it's worth re-telling. Turns out that Harold Reynolds has been working feverishly behind the scenes trying to convince his old buddy Junior to sign with Seattle. His trump card was none other than Willie Mays, who ranks one slot ahead of Griffey on the all-time home run list (Willie is fourth at 660, Griffey is fifth at 611).
Chuck Armstrong, Mariners' team president, was driving in Arizona Wednesday afternoon when Reynolds called with a question that astounded him.
"Would it be an imposition if you talked to Willie Mays?" asked Reynolds, a former Mariners' all-star second baseman and close friend of Griffey's.
"Of course not. I'd love to talk to Willie Mays,'" Armstrong replied immediately.
Reynolds had been acting all week as a liaison between the Mariners and Griffey, trying relentlessly to convince his buddy that Seattle was the place for him. And Mays was his ace in the hole.
"I called Willie, and he acted like an old friend,'" Armstrong said. "He talked about the importance of coming back, and asked if it would be an imposition if he called Junior and talked about it.
"I said, 'Willie, you're probably the greatest player ever, and the reason Junior wore No. 24.' I gave him Junior's phone number.''
Apparently, what the Say Hey Kid had to say hit the mark, because it was not too much longer before Griffey himself called Armstrong -- who had just landed back in Seattle -- to give him the good news.
"Ken said it was a legacy thing," Armstrong said. "When he talked to Willie, that was the word he used - legacy, and what it meant to him and the Giants, and what Junior means to this franchise. He told him that would live on long after his own lifetime, and Ken's lifetime.''
Hey, Hank Aaron was at Braves' camp today. Bet the Braves wish they'd had him give Junior a call to plead Atlanta's case.