Ken Griffey Sr. managed Team USA in the annual Futures All-Star Game Sunday in Cincinnati. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Ken Griffey Sr. recalls Fenway as 'one of the best places to hit'

Mike Petraglia
July 12, 2015 - 11:13 am

CINCINNATI -- Most Boston fans fondly remember the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, featuring Pedro Martinez starting and striking out the side of the National League batters in the first inning and five altogether in the American League's 4-1 win. But the previous night, it was Ken Griffey Jr. stealing the thunder from Mark McGwire and capturing the Home Run Derby. That was the night that McGwire put shot after shot onto the mobbed Lansdowne Street, only to have Junior beat McGwire in the final round. Turns out, Junior's dad was also a big fan of Fenway, too. "It was one of the best places to hit in my career," Ken Griffey Sr. said, before managing Team USA in the Futures Game here at Great American Ball Park. "I hit there toward the end of my career and really, really enjoyed it." Griffey has very good reason to have fond memories of Fenway. He doubled to left-center off Dick Drago with two out in the top of the ninth, scoring Dave Concepcion with the go-ahead run in a 3-2 Reds' win that evened the series, 1-1, headed back to Cincinnati. Then in the top of the ninth of Game 7, he worked a walk and scored the series-clinching run with two out when Joe Morgan blooped a single to center off Jim Burton. Griffey then played for the Yankees from 1982 to midway through 1986, before being traded to the Braves. He finished his career playing in Seattle with his son in 1990-91. Overall, Griffey Sr. hit .411 in 23 regular season games (99 plate appearances) at Fenway, his best average at any MLB park. "I hit well at Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium and of course Riverfront, too," Griffey recalled Sunday. His son, by comparison, hit .297 with eight homers in 73 games at Fenway. On Feb. 10, 2000, Junior was traded to the Reds for pitcher Brett Tomko, outfielder Mike Cameron, and minor leaguers Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer. Griffey signed a nine-year, $112.5M contract with the Reds after the trade was completed, with a club option for a tenth. "People forget that the biggest reason he came home here to Cincinnati was that it was his hometown," Griffey said of Junior agreeing to the trade in early 2000 that paved the way for his exit from Seattle. "He could've been a free agent and taken a lot more money from New York or Boston but he really wanted to play here." In some notable Boston angles Sunday, Pawtucket hitting coach and 1985 and '86 Red Sox All-Star catcher Rich Gedman is assisting Griffey Sr. in the Team USA dugout. The Red Sox don't have any players on Team USA but two - outfielder Manuel Margot (Portland) and third baseman Rafael Devers (Greenville) - on the World roster. San Francisco Giants first-rounder Tyler Beede (Auburn, Mass., Lawrence Academy, Vanderbilt) and Los Angeles Angels prospect Sean Newcomb (Middleboro, Mass.), both pitchers) represent Team USA. Coaching the World team is another former Big Red Machine star who has Boston ties. Tony Perez played with the Red Sox for three seasons (1980-82), hitting 25 homers, driving in 105 runs while batting .275 in 1980.