|September 27, 2001
Griffey Fulfills Mourner's Request
atrina Marino has tried to maintain any connections to her husband, Kenny, a New York City firefighter missing since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. She sends e-mail messages to the friends he played Strat-O-Matic baseball with, she returned to Rescue 1 in Manhattan and looked through his locker, and she treats a stash of his bubble gum like a shrine.
Kenny adored Ken Griffey Jr., so Katrina sent an e-mail message to the Cincinnati Reds and asked them if Griffey could hit "an extra homer" for Kenny because he would be "looking down with a big grin." The Reds showed it to Griffey before Tuesday night's game and he homered in his second at-bat in the Reds' 8-1 victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia.
"Only God knows why," Griffey told reporters, trying to explain the symbolic homer. "We just do what he says. He had me hit one out for that family."
The repercussions from what happened Sept. 11 are endless, extending from a woman from Monroe, N.Y., who is in need, to a superstar athlete she has never met. It was not until yesterday morning that Katrina realized Griffey had seen her e-mail message and smashed a homer. She was shocked.
"I wanted him to know he was Kenny's favorite player and if he could get that kind of hit it would mean so much for my kids and how they remember him," said Katrina Marino, who has a 3-year-old daughter, Kristin, and a 1-year-old son, Tyler Kenneth. "I know he'd be grinning and I know it would let my kids know someone was thinking about their father."
Griffey did not think about the implications of the home run, his 21st of the season, until he sat in the dugout, but then it hit him.
He said he wanted to give the bat to the family and meet them when the Reds were in New York next season to play the Mets.
"I'm glad that I could do something to help someone whose lives have really been changed by this disaster," he said. "To be able to do that, especially for a person who said I was his favorite player, this guy lost his life trying to save others. No matter what I do doesn't amount to anything" compared with what he did.
There are two pictures in the Marinos' bedroom, one of their daughter and one of Griffey. Tyler Kenneth is named in part after his father and after Griffey. Kenny Marino once attended a Seattle Mariners game and gave Griffey an "FDNY" T- shirt. Marino wore the same type of sunglasses as Griffey, and they are still in his car, a sight that makes his wife weepy.
"I don't think I'm ready to go there yet," Katrina Marino said when asked if she considered her husband missing or presumed dead. "I don't know those answers yet. What if he shows up?"
She stopped, then added, "He'd love all of this."
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