ROME, N.Y. - Major League Baseball legend Ken Griffey, Sr.— a three-time All-Star, two-time World Series player and All-Star MVP – will share his story of baseball with Central New Yorkers at the sixth annual "Legends of the Diamond Dinner" on Tuesday, May 19 at 6 p.m. at the Beeches Inn and Conference Center in Rome, New York. The Legends of the Diamond annual dinner is hosted by the Rome Lions and the Lake Delta Kiwanis. Again this year, Rite Aid Corporation is the major corporate event sponsor.
Net proceeds from this event will go to the two organizations to support their respective missions. Tickets are $60 for adults and $35 for children under age 12. Ticket price includes a delicious, sit down dinner, admission to cash bar cocktail hour and an opportunity to meet Griffey and to ask for his autograph. Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling 339-7328, 339-3798 or 334-5050. Sponsorships are also available.
All attendees will also have the opportunity to join Griffey at his table for dinner. Just before dinner, a free raffle will be held and several attendees’ names will be pulled to join Griffey. Throughout the evening, additional raffles will be held. Attorney Greg Mattacola will be the moderator.
"This promises to be the ‘home run’ of community events," said Chairperson Larry Giardino, a member of the Rome Lions. "Ken Griffey Sr. is considered a baseball legend. We look forward again to hosting this event that will be fun for those who attend and will also support community programs," he added.
Griffey was introduced to Major League Baseball on August 25, 1973 with the Cincinnati Reds. That season, Griffey played in only 25 games, but batted .384 with three homers. The following season, Griffey saw more playing time with 88 games. In 1975, Griffey began to break out with a .305 batting average with four home runs and 46 RBIs. Griffey's greatest season came in 1976, when he came just short of winning the batting title behind the Cubs' Bill Madlock. Griffey batted a career high .336, finished eighth in the Most Valuable Player voting, and was named to The Sporting News National League All-Star team. That season, the Reds won their second consecutive World Series title. Also, the season marked the end of The Big Red Machine in Cincinnati. The team, which ended when Tony Perez left the team, consisted of greats such as Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Johnny Bench. In the next four seasons, Griffey batted .318, .288, .316, and .294 with a total of 43 home runs. In Griffey's final season as a Red, 1981, he batted .311 with only two home runs and 34 RBIs.
After the 1981 season, Griffey (along with most of the remaining members of The Big Red Machine) was shipped out. Griffey was sent to the New York Yankees, where he played from 1982 to 1986 as a utility player at first base and outfield. Injuries plagued Griffey, who hit .306 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs in his best season with the Yankees. In 1986, Griffey was traded mid-season to the Atlanta Braves, where he played for only one full season. Griffey was traded back to Cincinnati in the middle of the 1988 season. He only spent the 1989 season with the Reds, and was then traded to the Seattle Mariners in the middle of the Reds' championship 1990 season. He spent only one more season with the Mariners, in 1991, before retiring after 19 seasons.
In 2,097 games, Griffey compiled a lifetime batting average of .296, with 152 home runs and 859 RBI. Griffey was also the Most Valuable Player of the 1980 All-Star Game.
Giardino said that the two clubs serve the community in many ways, including financial assistance for the needy to purchase eye glasses, eye exams and hearing aids, student scholarship programs and Christmas parties for children and seniors in need as well as donating equipment and supplies to worth while not-for-profits organizations and supporting youth recreational programs in the Greater Rome Area.