Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Griffey delivers powerful reply

Letter from NY widow precedes slugger's HR

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHILADELPHIA — The Sept.11 terrorist attacks touch so many people in so many ways. Ken Griffey Jr. got a lesson in that Tuesday.

        Before the game, publicity director Rob Butcher forwarded an e-mail from Katrina Marino of New York sent to Griffey through the Reds' Web site.

        It read: “My husband, Kenny Marino, a Rescue 1 firefighter, is missing. Ken Griffey Jr. was his favorite player ... If Ken Griffey Jr. could hit an extra home run for Kenny, I know he will be looking down with a big smile.”

        Griffey delivered, hitting a home run to help the Reds to an 8-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies before a crowd of 14,863 at Veterans Stadium.

        “This is a guy who lost his life to save others,” Griffey said. “Then his wife takes time to send the Reds an e-mail ...

        “I'm just glad I got a chance to do something to make him smile.”

        Griffey said the emotion of the moment hit him when he returned to the dugout.

        “I sat down and thought about what I did,” he said.

        Griffey plans to send the bat to the Marino family and try to meet them when he goes to New York next year. He rated the homer — emotionally — in the top five of the 459 he has hit.

        “What happened has changed my life,” Griffey said, “and I don't know anyone who was in the buildings.”

        Reds starter Joey Hamilton, who allowed five runs in three innings in his first start, was a completely different pitcher.

        Hamilton (1-1) went five innings, allowing two hits and no runs. He did not allow a runner to reach second.

Dmitri Young smiles as he hangs on to Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins after breaking up a double play in the fourth inning.
(AP photo)
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        “He didn't really have his best stuff,” Reds manager Bob Boone said. “But he battled and threw it where he wanted it.”

        Hamilton's last victory was against the Phillies. He beat them 6-5 in an interleague game July 14 when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays. Hamilton is 3-1 vs. the National League this year. He also beat the Atlanta Braves in another interleague game.

        This is what the Reds hoped for when they signed Hamilton, the 31-year-old right-hander, after the Jays released him.

        This is a critical series for the Phillies. They came into the night tied for first place with Atlanta in the NL East, but the Braves beat the Florida Marlins 5-2 to put Philadelphia a game back.

        “It was nice to give us a chance to win,” Hamilton said. “We're so far out of it ... It's nice to have some say in what happens. That's what motivates us. We're going to have some say in the NL East.”

        For at least one more night, the Reds (62-89) avoided becoming only the 13th team in the 133 years of Cincinnati baseball to lose 90 games.

        The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first. Adam Dunn walked, sped to third on Griffey's infield single and scored on Dmitri Young's fielder's choice.

        Griffey made it 2-0 with the homer, his 21st, in the fourth.

        The Reds added four runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh on RBI doubles by Griffey and Sean Casey, who broke a season-high 0-for-19 skid.

        All this soon will be forgotten. But Griffey provided a lasting memory for one family.

        “... We just play a game,” he said. “When I'm done, it will just be some things written down on paper. ... I hit a home run. This guy lost his life.”


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