Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Baseball memorabilia story from Jeff Larish

Infielder Jeff Larish played for the Tigers and A's from 2008 to 2010. In 101 games he hit .224 with 8 HR and 32 RBI. Now the owner of Dead Red CrossFit in Peoria, AZ, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards with this great story.

"I do not have any exciting stories regarding baseball cards. I used to collect them as a kid, but stopped around middle school. My favorite player growing up was Ken Griffey Jr. I used to have a binder full of his cards, as well as posters, autographs, and other memorabilia. I do have a few interactions with him that stick out to me.

Griffey was on the tail end of his career just as mine was starting up. I played against him in 2008 when he was with the White Sox and later in 2009 when he returned to the Mariners. When you're in the MLB as a player and you would like to get an autograph, it is customary to send the items over through the clubhouse manager. They then return the items back in your locker after they've been signed. In 2008, I sent over a Griffey White Sox jersey and 2 baseballs. 

I had informed my teammate, Curtis Granderson, that I was a huge Griffey fan. As we finished up in the batting cages before one of our games, Griffey walked in. I hadn't been nervous meeting any other players I grew up watching. Not Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, or anyone else, but this was Ken Griffey Jr. Curtis turned to him and said, "Ken, I'd like to introduce you to Jeff Larish. He's a big fan." He then replied, "Oh, you're the one that sent over all the stuff." All I could do was look at him dumbfounded and say, "Yeah, sorry about that." He then laughed and told me it wasn't a problem.

When I got the jersey and ball back, I was kicking myself because I really wanted to get a Griffey Mariners jersey and I didn't think to get that one too since he was playing for the White Sox at the time. Fortunately, I got to play against him again when he returned to the Mariners in 2009. When I asked the Seattle clubhouse manager if I could send a jersey over to have Griffey sign it, he told me that he changed his autograph policy. He now required anyone to go personally ask him if it was OK to send stuff over. 

After the last encounter with him, I was even more nervous than before. I mean, he already called me out for sending stuff over last year, now I have to go ask him face-to-face? I went out to the dugout while they were hitting batting practice. As I waited for batting practice to finish up, I was having this inner struggle to muster up the courage to go ask him. I kept telling myself that this may be your only opportunity. It seemed like an eternity for BP to end. As it finished up, I made my way out of the dugout over to him. The whole time I was walking, I was trying to figure out how to address him. Do I call him Ken or Mr. Griffey? To this day, I don't remember how I addressed him. All I know is I was able to ask him to sign the jersey despite how extremely nervous I was.

I was fortunate to play with and against a lot of great players. Many of them All-Stars and a few of them current and future Hall of Famers, but the only player I was ever nervous to talk to was Ken Griffey Jr. It's amazing to think back to how much I admired him as a kid and then I got the opportunity to meet and play against him in the major leagues."


  1. That's a really great story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very cool story of meeting the Kid!

  3. You've had some really good stories on here before, but this one is by far my favorite.