Griffey fulfills request, Reds rout Philadelphia

Firefighter's widow asks Reds star to hit one for her husband

By Hal McCoy
e-mail address: hal_mccoy@coxohio.com
Dayton Daily News

PHILADELPHIA | If only it were this easy, if only Junior Griffey could perform upon request, what an easy game baseball could be.

Don't tell Katrina Marino that Griffey can't do something upon command or demand like hit a home run for a fireman missing under the rubble of New York's World Trade Center.

Before Tuesday's game against the first-place Philadelphia Phillies, an 8-1 Cincinnati Reds victory in near-empty Veterans Stadium (14,863), Griffey sat in front of his locker reading an e-mail forwarded to him from the Cincinnati Reds Web site.

It was from Katrina Marino, wife of Kenny Marino, a firefighter for Rescue 1 with the Fire Department of New York, counted among the missing.

"Ken Griffey Jr., was my husband's favorite baseball player," read the e-mail. "If Ken Griffey Jr. could hit an extra home run for Ken, I know he will be looking down with a big grin."

An extra home run?

Well Junior did have 20 others before Tuesday night. Now it is 21.

After beating out an infield hit that helped produce a run in the first inning, Griffey drove a 1-and-0 pitch from Phillies starter David Coggin over the right-field fence in the fourth to give the Reds a 2-0 lead. Griffey then walked and doubled for a three-hit, three-runs-scored and two-runs-batted-in evening.

"I'm glad I could do it," Griffey said softly after the game. "So many people lost their lives in that disaster and lives have been changed, so to be able to do something for somebody else and for somebody who said I was his favorite player is special. But, no matter what I did doesn't amount to anything. This guy lost his life to save others and it means a lot that somebody took the time to send an e-mail to tell me to hit a home run . . . and I did it. I'm glad I was able to make her smile."

Griffey hopes to make arrangements to meet Katrina Marino when the Reds play in New York next season, and he plans to send her an autographed bat right away.

"For him to choose me meant he respects me for what I've done," Griffey said. "He could pick anybody. Just so happens, it was me. This guy lost his life, and his wife two weeks later says, 'Hey, hit a home run,' and I end up doing it."

Joey Hamilton, making his second start for the Reds, held the Phillies to no runs and two hits for five innings. He's 3-0 this season against National League teams, having beat the Atlanta Braves and the Phillies while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Reds manager Bob Boone caught 10 years for the Phillies and said before Tuesday's game, "I've been a Phillie all my life and I became a Phillies fan when I left. Then I found myself pulling for them to beat the big, bad Braves this year, but the real satisfaction even more would be to be the team to beat them. It's like playing golf against your kids. You want them to be good, but you still want to beat their brains out."

Counting Tuesday night, six of the Phillies final 12 games are against the Reds.

"The Phillies keep saying the schedule favors them because they play us," Boone added. "We want to play good. We're out of it, but we want to put our 'A' game on the field so we can affect the standings. It gives games more meaning to us."

Boone interviewed for the Phillies job last winter, losing out to Larry Bowa.

"I voted for him for manager of the year, as much as that pains me," said Boone.

 

 Contact Hal McCoy via e-mail at hal_mccoy@coxohio.com

[From the Dayton Daily News: 09.26.2001] 

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