Today marks the end of the career of one of most prolific hitters in the history of professional baseball as Ken Griffey, Jr. announced his retirement today after 22 years.

In an official statement, the 40 year-old Griffey stated:

“While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field, and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back, that I will never allow myself to become a distraction. I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates, and their success as team is what the ultimate goal should be.”

In 33 games this season, Griffey was homerless in 108 plate appearances with a .184 batting average and seven RBI.

It was hard for me to watch him struggle this season he was a shell of the Ken Griffey Jr. I remember watching as a kid.

He was arguably the most feared hitter in the Major Leagues during the ’90s.

His career achievements include 10 Gold Gloves, 13 All-Star selections, 7 Silver Slugger awards, and an AL MVP award in 1997. He won an ESPY for Male Athlete of the Year in 1998 and was named to the MLB All-Century Team in 1999.

He ranks fifth all-time on the career homerun list behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays. He also scored 1,662 runs, collected 2,781 hits, drove in 1,836 runs, and hit for a .284 average in 2,671 career games.

What makes his numbers more impressive is the fact that Griffey was plagued by injuries in Cincinnati that forced him to miss 260 games from 2002 to 2004.

In his prime, Jr. was a pop culture icon. He starred on the cover of four video games by Nintendo from 1994 to 1999. In 1996, he was a major spokesman for Nike and was the central focus of the company’s “Ken Griffey, Jr. for President” ad campaign.

Griffey also made guest appearances in TV episodes of The Simpsons and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as well as in the movies Little Big League and Summer Catch .

Most importantly, Griffey did it the right way. He has never been linked to steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. His character has never been questioned, and he is still a beloved figure in Seattle and across the Major Leagues.

His playing career might be over, but something tells me he’s not done with the game of baseball. There are plenty of teams that would love to have a guy like him as a bench coach or hitting instructor.

Congratulations on a great career Mr. Griffey—see you in Cooperstown.

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