Friday, June 11, 2004

Next destination for 500 homers: Jacobs Field



By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The magazine, the one with his picture on its cover this week, was flipped open to a two-page spread.

Ken Griffey Jr. glanced at the photo that captured him in mid-swing and lifted it closer. The Reds center fielder wanted to confirm earlier this week that he had hit the pitch on the bat's sweet spot.

To those following Griffey's pursuit of 500 career home runs, the bigger picture blurs such details.

As the Reds begin a three-game series against the Indians today at Jacobs Field, Griffey remains two home runs shy of becoming the 20th player in major-league history to hit 500 or more in a career.

Griffey last homered June 6 against the Expos at Great American Ball Park.

Five hundred career home runs long have defined baseball's greatest power hitters. Every eligible player to have reached the figure is immortalized inside the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro are the only active players with 500 or more home runs.

Thirty of Griffey's 498 career homers have come against Cleveland. Of those, 19 were hit at either Cleveland Stadium (11) or Jacobs Field (8).

The intrastate series will draw sizeable crowds. Fewer than 10,000 tickets remained for each of the three games as of Wednesday.

Griffey isn't the only draw.

Teams will wear replica 1975 jerseys for today's game. The first 20,000 fans through the gates Saturday will receive a dual Omar Vizquel/Dave Concepcion bobblehead doll.

Indians pitchers Jeff D'Amico and Bob Wickman are two of the 315 pitchers off whom Griffey has homered.

Left-handers C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee are scheduled to start the first and third games of the series for Cleveland. Saturday's starter has not been named.

Griffey is 1-for-5 lifetime against Sabathia.




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