Just think, we almost didn’t get to witness Ken Griffey Jr.’s greatness.
This week represents a joyous time for Griffey, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. But there was a point in Griffey’s life when things seemed so bad he tried to commit suicide by swallowing 277 aspirin, by his count, according to a 1992 article in The Seattle Times.
Griffey, the eldest son in a famous baseball family, was 18 years old in January 1988. He and his father, Ken Griffey Sr., whom he later played alongside with the Seattle Mariners, frequently didn’t see eye to eye. That became a problem for the younger Griffey, who described himself as “real stubborn” in the Times article, especially once he moved away from home after becoming a professional athlete as a teenager.
“It seemed like everyone was yelling at me in baseball, then I came home and everyone was yelling at me there,” Griffey recalled, according to the article. “I got depressed. I got angry. I didn’t want to live.”
Griffey ended up in intensive care after swallowing the surplus of aspirin, which he told The Seattle Times was the only time he acted on his suicidal thoughts despite previously thinking about killing himself “with my father’s gun or something.” According to Griffey, he revealed the shocking story in the hopes of dissuading others from considering suicide as a potential solution to their problems.
“The problem was with me and my father,” Griffey told The Seattle Times in 1992. “I’m smarter than most people think I am, although what I did was not smart. I knew what I had done and got over it. There weren’t any deep problems with me afterwards.”
Griffey, a former No. 1 overall pick who debuted with Seattle in 1989, patched up his relationship with his father, who joined the Mariners in 1990, making them the first father-son teammates in Major League Baseball history. The Kid proceeded to carve out an amazing career that earned him a near-unanimous election to Cooperstown.
The suicide attempt shouldn’t go unnoticed, though. Because while Griffey’s Hall of Fame election is an accomplishment worth celebrating, it’s also worth remembering that we almost lost greatness way too soon.
Thankfully, we didn’t.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@dschoenfield