From Ichiro Suzuki
“It was so surprising and it was so all of a sudden. I wasn’t even expecting this. I don’t even know how to express my feelings as of now.”
“During the game you can’t even forget about thinking about Junior. He would always be somewhere in the back of my mind and that’s how I played today.”
“Junior is a very special player to myself. I don’t know how to explain this in words, that’s how much feelings I have towards him. I’m sure all of our players here in the clubhouse wanted to win for Junior and it was a very important game because of what happened today when we weren’t expecting this. It’s a big win for us and a big win for the team as well.”
“Every moment with him is a treasure. It will keep deep within my heart. I’ve played 19 years in professional baseball and I can say that he was my best teammate and my best friend as well.”
(On the game-winning hit going to #24 behind 2nd base) “I felt a special bond going to that direction. I wanted that ball to go through “24” but it didn’t. I think that has a special meaning as well.”
From teammate Milton Bradley:
“It meant everything. I hit left-handed because of Griffey. I wanted to play baseball, be an outfielder, make diving catches, style on a home run because of Griffey. Guys like him don’t come around every day. He’s just as magical off the field as on it. I just called him, and he was driving back through Florida on his own terms smiling and happy, still classy.”
“I really wanted a win today. I had somebody else’s legs out there today. I was full of a lot of emotions and wanted especially to get a win tonight so Junior’s retirement would be right.”
“I told him we pulled one out and I had him on my mind all night and that I hope he takes care of himself out there. He said he might see us in a couple of weeks.”
“When I stole second, I thought it was a hit-and-run, then I just got a read at second and took third. Getting there with one out enabled Kotch to hit that flyball and get a run home. My legs were feeling all right, so I wanted to make the most out of it.”
“Oh, there’s always a way with the way we’ve had some games happen.”
“If you can just give effort to get a win, we were going to get a win tonight.”
“A little birdie told me something a couple days ago, but I didn’t want to believe it. Like I do a lot of stuff, I just blocked it out and didn’t consider it. I had the day off yesterday, sat with Griffey and talked to him the whole game, and I didn’t think it was going to happen. I happened to spend some time with him in the video room watching his last 40 or so home runs, just reliving them with him. I didn’t know that was going to be one of the last moments we spent as teammates, but I’m glad we had the time.”
“It’s like he said. He wasn’t playing too much, and a guy like Ken Griffey being here and not playing, it’s going to wear on him. He’s a competitor and has competed his whole life. Always in the lineup, always playing the game to the utmost. Not being in there, it’s a beautiful game, but business decisions are made and things happen. He doesn’t have any ill will toward anyone. That’s the nature of the game, it just brings everything to the realization that you’re not going to play forever.”
From teammate Matt Tuiasosopo:
“It was amazing. In the six years I’ve played in the organization, the last year and a half has been the best of my career. Just coming here to the clubhouse every day knowing I’d get to be with a guy like Griffey, who I grew up watching and wanting to be like.”
“Every day me and all my friends would go out in our cul de sac just up the street from my house and play with a little tennis ball, and we would all act like him,” he said. “I wasn’t even a lefty, but I would act like him from the right side. We loved him, the Bone (Jay Buhner) and Edgar (Martinez).”
“It’s sad. It’s been really special just to be a part of this and playing with him. It’s something I will always remember and something I will tell my kids about. I’m just so very thankful.”
From teammate Ryan Rowland-Smith:
Fast forward to 2007, Rowland-Smith made his big league debut on June 22 and the first batter he faced was Griffey. And he struck him out swinging.
“To come in and get to face him and talk to him about a few years later was a cool experience. All I remember is that I got ahead of him and trying to throw a curveball as hard as I could. It bounced and he swung. I walked off and I could hear the groans from the crowd cause they wanted to see him hit a home run. But it was a special moment for me.”
“In years to come or when I’m looking back on my career, it’s pretty special thing to be able to say I was a teammate of Ken Griffey Jr. The impact he had on the game and the hall of fame career he had, it’s pretty special to play alongside of him.”
From teammate Rob Johnson:
“We got to know each other as buddies,” Johnson said. “I’ve grown to trust him as a friend and he trusts me as a friend. We were even going to hunting together this past offseason.”
“When you step back and look back and think about his accomplishments, you say, ‘Really?’ This guy might be the greatest player that ever lived and I sit next to him at my locker every day and he’s my teammate. How great is that?”
From former teammate Edgar Martinez:
“It was my pleasure to play with Junior for more many years. What I remember the most is his talent, his great sense of humor, his personality and his love for the game. He wanted to play the game and he did it the right way , hard daily.”
From former teammate Jay Buhner:
“Well, obviously he’s the greatest Mariner of all time, and he was a great teammate. Ken was always a team first guy, and this is a perfect example of that. He felt like it was best for team to walk away from the game he loved, so that’s what he did. I love the guy like my brother and Leah and I wish Ken and his family nothing but the best.”
Former teammate and M's broadcaster Mike Blowers:
Well, I think it’s a bit of a surprise for myself, like everybody else, but when I think when I look back on Kenny’s career a big smile comes over my face. And the biggest reason why is because he was one of the best teammates I ever had. I know everybody can look at the numbers he put up; first ballot Hall of Famer and all that stuff, but he was also a great teammate and a great friend to have. For me, although a lot of people are going to be sad on this day I have a lot of fond memories for Kenny. I wish him, and Melissa well, and hopefully he gets back to Orlando in good shape and gets back to flying his airplane. I think overall this city was very fortunate to have Kenny in it for the amount of years that they had him.
From former teammate Dan Wilson
First, I congratulate Jr. on his amazing baseball career. Never have I witnessed a more skilled player both offensively and defensively. I considered it an honor to take the field everyday wearing a Mariners uniform with one of the greatest players of all time. I congratulate him on all his achievements and Annie and I wish he and Melissa all the best in this new phase of their lives.
Junior was our field general. Whenever we needed something done on the field to win a ballgame, Jr. was the guy to do it. Whether it was a game winning home run or a game saving circus catch in the outfield, Junior always delivered. He is undoubtedly the most influential player in Mariner history.
On a personal side, Junior loved his family and he loved the game. That love spilled out of him with every flash of his infectious smile. For that, we will all be truly thankful.
Lastly, he was a quiet community man. He did a lot of things for other people that the public didn't know or hear about. I respected him most for that. He did these deeds not for the fanfare, but from the sheer compassion in his heart.
Not only did the M's suffer a huge loss today, but MLB has lost one of its greatest players of all-time.
From former Mariners manager and current Cubs manager Lou Piniella:
"Junior was one of the finest young men I've ever had the opportunity to manage. When we were in Seattle together, I believe he was the best player in baseball and it was truly an honor to be his manager. As great a player he was, he is an even better person. I salute his Hall of Fame career."
From President & COO Chuck Armstrong
“Ken is both the finest ballplayer I have ever known and one of the finest people I have ever known,” Armstrong said. “I consider myself unbelievably fortunate to have had the opportunity to watch a first-ballot Hall of Famers’ career unfold in front of me, and in front of the great fans in Seattle.”
“Ken is truly the heart of soul of this franchise. Without his contributions there is little doubt that Safeco Field would not exist and, almost certainly, baseball would have left the Northwest.”
“He always gave his all on the field, and quietly was a force for good in the community.”
“On the personal side, over the years my family and I have developed a close relationship with Ken and his family that we cherish. Ken Griffey Jr. epitomizes all that is good and right about professional athletics. He is a role model for the youth of today. In the years to come I do not expect our personal relationship to diminish. On behalf of all of us in the Mariners Family, I wish all the very best of health and happiness to Ken Griffey Jr. and his family.
“On a side note, just a few minutes ago I informed Commissioner Selig of Ken’s decision and he asked me to express his personal thanks and admiration for all that Ken has meant to the game of Baseball.”
From CEO Howard Lincoln
“Ken Griffey Jr., one of baseball’s true hero’s, retired today. Ken’s enduring legacy will be as the ballplayer most responsible for keeping Major League Baseball here in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. His achievements in baseball are well known and second to none. In the near future, I look forward to seeing Ken inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. For me, Ken Griffey is more than just a fabulous baseball player. He is a great man in every sense of the word. He is a wonderful family man; he is a man of deep compassion who has given generously to his fellow man; and he is a man who has played the game of life clean and with passion and conviction. Like all Mariners fans, I wish Ken the very best in the years to come and on behalf of our ownership group, our front office and our players, I thank him from the bottom of my heart for all that he has given to our community. ”
From Executive Vice President & General Manager Jack Zduriencik
“This is a sad day for the Mariners. It is rare in this game when you get an opportunity to reunite a player and a team. We feel honored that Ken was able to end his career where it began, here in Seattle. I’d like to wish Ken, Melissa and his family the very best.”
Reds President & CEO Bob Castellini:
"We were very honored to have a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Ken play for us for nine years. The Griffey family is at the center of baseball tradition in Cincinnati, and Ken and his father gave our organization and Reds fans many wonderful memories. Not only was Junior one of the best baseball players of this or any other generation, he is a wonderful person and family man. We wish Ken, Melissa and their family success and happiness in life off the field."