How Ken Griffey Jr. Transitioned from Baseball to Photography

Ken Griffey Jr. watching a home run

Life is a journey, and if you become obsessed with looking for happiness, thinking that the next venture is what will culminate into the ultimate joy, then you will continue missing out on the little things that matter. Such thinking is what led to someone warning us about destination addiction; the idea that until we get the ideal job, partner, family, or house, we can never be happy. However, not all of us will be satisfied in the life we are living, and we are always seeking more; be it money or excitement. Unfortunately, it usually is too late when we realize that we had all we needed to be happy in the first place. That’s what led former baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. to pursue his passion.

Being a celebrity, in whatever field, has its perks and downsides. As a professional athlete or actress, you might have to spend time away from the people who motivate you to get out of bed in the morning. Eventually, you have made it to the Forbes list of the world’s richest but the children for whom you were working so hard, now have families of their own and you are stuck in a big house with the only people keeping you company being the employees. Ken Griffey had his rude awakening late in life, but it has enabled him to make changes in his life, and he never regrets a day in his life. You cannot talk about Major league Baseball without the name Ken Griffey Jr. coming up in the conversation, but now he has put those days behind him and is now focusing on his other passion which is photography. So what made him leave baseball? Let’s check out his story.

Forming a father-son duo

The Jacksons Five still are remembered for being an all-brother music group, and in 1989, a family duo was created this time in the sports world. Ken Griffey Jr. was the first player to be selected by the MLB draft in 1987, and he joined the American League Seattle Mariners. At the same time, his father Ken Griffey Sr. was an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, and the two made history for being the first father and son to play in Major League Baseball ever. Upon his son signing to play for the Mariners, Ken Griffey Sr. also asked to be traded to the Mariners in 1989 and two played together until Ken’s father retired in 1991.

Making his mark on the field

Ken was impressive on the field, causing him to take home for the years from 1991 to 1999, the American League Gold Glove Award. Additionally, he clinched the Most Valuable Player Award in 1997 by having 56 home runs, and 147 RBIs. Everyone has a moment that makes them unforgettable, and for Ken, one of those is when his team played against the New York Yankees. Ken already held a grudge against the Yankees saying that the manager always kicked him out of the clubhouse reasoning that children do not belong there. His dislike for the team also stemmed from the fact that according to him they treated Ken’s father badly and maybe that is what fueled him to beat the Yankees during the American League Decisive Series where they missed being eliminated by a whisker.

Moving closer to home

Death changes people, especially when it is that of those we knew and cared about deeply. For Ken, the transformation happened on October 25, 1999, when Payne Stewart, a golfer that Ken had known from their days of living in Orlando, died in a plane crash. The demise of Stewart impacted Ken in a way that he no longer wanted to live far away from his relatives but also wanted to see his children grow. The best strategy that Ken saw fit was to ask for a trade. Ken, therefore, was traded to the Reds on February 20, 2000, in exchange for several players including a pitcher, outfielder, and minor leaguers. The move, however, was not met by all with a smile; Ken was branded a traitor in the eyes of those in the State of Washington while those in Ohio looked up to him as their hero. Well, you can please everyone, and you always have to do what is best for you and Ken inked a deal that he has been cashing in on even after retiring from the baseball profession. With the trade came a contract running for nine years and worth $116.5 million. While the contract would have expired in 2009, the Cincinnati Reds deferred half of the money so that Ken will continue receiving a check of at least $3.5 million per year, until 2025.

Going into photography

Of course, you do not retire to start pestering your wife and looking over her shoulder as she cooks and does the laundry. Ken decided the best way he can be there for his children is to capture every important moment. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so what better way than to take photographs. Ken has been taking pictures of his son’s games since Trey was seven. The strange thing is when he takes pictures of kids during a game, and they are great, he does not charge the parents anything in return; he only sends them through their mail.

Getting the best photography tips

Ken knew that as iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another. He, therefore, has been working with Scott Clarke of ESPN to get the best photography advice. Ken does not appreciate sugarcoated truth, and that is why he has been able to stick around with Scott, who tells it as it is. While his kids’ games have been his favorite events to cover, he dreams bigger and would want to shoot the Olympics, both track and field. That is not to say he has not been traveling the world to share some of the most memorable events; he recently was a photographer at the Opening Series in Tokyo Dome. Although he is yet to have his own website to showcase his photographs, he never misses to update them on his Instagram where his more than 556k fans are always encouraging with the thousands of likes.


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