Baseball great Ken Griffey Jr. visits Hartsville for camp
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Local baseball enthusiasts got to spend about an hour with one of baseball’s greats – Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. – Monday night at the T.B. Thomas Center in Hartsville for the opening of Orlando Hudson’s baseball camp.
Griffey and Hudson have been friends off the field for several years, and both support each other’s endeavors.
Hudson has an organization called Swingman Baseball, which will host the Pee Dee Major League Camp from 6 to 9 p.m. this week through Thursday at Byerly Park in Hartsville. This camp will feature instruction from Griffey, Hudson and Quentin Davis on proper hitting, fielding and pitching techniques.
“My schedule is not that busy,” Griffey said. “Juggling three kids; I’m a basketball coach for a child who wants to go pro, and I have a high school student. I stay out of my wife’s way as much as possible.”
Griffey admits to coming from a football family.
“My brother played college football at Ohio State. I was going to go to Oklahoma,” he said. “My uncle was a starting quarterback at one school, and there was another guy who played quarterback at another school. They eventually go together, and he was the wide receiver to Joe Montana.”
Griffey is the son of former Cincinnati Red Ken Griffey Sr.
“If you look at it, we’re the only two who played baseball,” Griffey Jr. said.
The Griffeys – Sr. and Jr. – are part of a very special one-of-a-kind baseball record, as they are the only father and son to hit back-to-back home runs in a game.
“We had a bet whoever got the first hit, the other person had a chance to tie,” he said.
“So he got a hit and I got a hit. He got a home run, and I’m standing there, and he said, ‘That’s how you do it, son.’
“I hit mine, and I sat down next to him. He made me shake everyone’s hand first.
“I sat down next to him, and he said, ‘Do you know what we just did?’
“’Yeah, we just hit home runs.’
“At 20 and 38, he understands baseball history; I’m trying to write baseball history,”
The pair kept the 50-person audience sated for about 45 minutes.
Griffey said the message he wants to leave with young players is to have fun and to their parents is to let the young players have fun.
He spoke about the enormous pressure some parents can exert on their children and encouraged parents to back off and let the child decide what sports to play and how much.
Hudson chimed in with his take on the issue.
“I played football,” he said. “When I was done with football, I was ready to shoot that rock. When that was over, I was ready for baseball.”
The pair took about 30 minutes to sign autographs on baseballs and other memorabilia.