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Here is Jerry's Saturday column in advance of Junior's big day:
Ken Griffey Jr. is nervous.
He’s done hitting home runs, 630 of them. He’s finished defying the body’s limitations to make amazing catch after amazing catch. He’s no longer carrying a baseball team, or a city, or a thrill-fiend sports world. After all these years, after all that excellence, his only task is to bask in celebration. And that scares the swagger out of him.
As he prepares to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame on Saturday, Griffey says he’s more nervous than excited. It’s about more than just the natural fear of speaking to more than 40,000 fans. For all Griffey accomplished in baseball, for all the confidence greatness requires, his complex personality includes a fascinating strand of humility when it comes to others recognizing his success. He doesn’t consider it a given, perhaps because his 22-year major-league career came with spurts of difficulty, controversy and polarity.
It’s hard to fathom, but there’s a significant part of Griffey that cringes and ducks at the notion of what we think about him.
“You never know what somebody might say,” Griffey said Friday.
The legend formerly known as The Kid still possesses that boyish shyness. Gray is invading his goatee, and you notice some thinning near his hairline, but just as he played with child-like enthusiasm, he approaches this honor with innocence.
“I was nervous three weeks ago,” Griffey said. “I was nervous a month ago. I was nervous two months ago.”
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