06/10/08 8:08 PM ET
McLaren speaks of Junior's 600th tater
Skipper was bench coach during many of Griffey's homers
By David Singh / MLB.com
"It was good to see our friend Mr. Griffey get 600," McLaren said with a smile on Tuesday. "Great feeling."
Griffey joined the exclusive 600 home run club on Monday, when he belted a two-run shot in the first inning of the Reds' 9-4 victory over the Marlins.
Of Griffey's 600 home runs, the outfielder hit 398 as a member of the Mariners from 1989-99. McLaren was a firsthand witness to many of those taters, as he was a member of the team's coaching staff from 1993 to 2002.
One such home run that stuck in McLaren's mind came on a day when a child from the Make-A-Wish Foundation was visiting Griffey.
"I remember the Make-A-Wish kid was in the clubhouse and Griffey was giving him a jersey, a bat, just showing him around and making him laugh," McLaren remembered. "It really made you feel good."
"Before the game," McLaren continued, "he said [to the child], 'I'm going to try to do something for you. Something real special.' And he hit a home run. You think about it, that kid had to feel like a million dollars."
Griffey ranks among the Mariners' franchise leaders in most offensive categories. In his 1,535 games with Seattle, he hit .299, collecting 1,742 hits. As well, he scored 1,063 runs and drove in 1,152 RBIs, both of which place second to Edgar Martinez in the team's history.
McLaren did not understate Griffey's contributions to the sport during his prime.
"For me, he's the best player in the last 25 years in baseball," he said of Griffey, who is also a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner.
"He was a highlight film every night, whether hitting a home run in the upper deck in the Kingdome or climbing some wall. He had the ability in his running speed to take it to the next level. He had an overdrive."
McLaren also marveled at the type of player Griffey was in the eyes of baseball fans.
"[I would] definitely pay to see him play," McLaren said. "Over the past whatever years, he is the first guy I would think of you paying to go watch play, because he's an all-around player."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.