On September 14, 1990, the father-son pair of Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning for the visiting Seattle Mariners against the California Angels.
Earlier in the 1990 season, the Griffeys became the first father-son duo to ever play on the same team in the majors after Griffey Sr. signed with Seattle in August. That night at Anaheim Stadium, in a game between two middling American League clubs, their repeat blasts set a new record: the first dad and son to hit back-to-back homers.
Griffey the Elder, who already had 17 major league seasons under his belt, came up to bat following leadoff man Harold Reynolds reaching base via a walk. After a pair of strikes from California pitcher Kirk McCaskill, Griffey Sr. found his pitch and sent the ball 402 feet to center field.
Griffey the Younger, meanwhile, was in the midst of his second major league season and had won Rookie of the Year honors in 1989. His solo dinger came on an 3-and-0 pitch from McCaskill and went 388 feet over the left-center wall.
Unfortunately for Seattle and the Griffeys, the early three-run lead wouldn’t hold up: Angels right fielder Dave Winfield had two deep shots of his own, and a five-run third inning paved the way for a 7-5 California victory.
It was Griffey Sr.’s third blast of the 1990 season while Griffey Jr. recorded his 20th.
I’d think of it, but you’re never sure it’s going to happen. We had been talking about it last summer, but he was in the Northwest and I was in Cincinnati. I just didn’t think it was going to happen. . . . We weren’t trying for it. I was just trying to hit the ball.
Ken Griffrey Sr.
The father who hit the first home run
Neither club was in the playoff hunt at the time of the game: Seattle came into the contest 70-74, and California was 73-71. Things stayed that way as the Angels wound in 4th in the AL West, 23 games back at 80-82, and the Mariners took 5th at 77-85.
Griffey Sr. went on to compete in the 1991 season for the Mariners. He retired after the year and hung up his cap with three all-star game appearances, two world championship rings with Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, and a .296 batting average.
Griffey Jr.’s career was just getting started in 1990. The eventual 13-time all-star earned the AL MVP in 1997, 10 straight Golden Gloves in ’90s and helped lead the Mariners to a pair of AL West titles. After playing with the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, Griffey Jr. returned to Seattle for two seasons and retired in 2010. He finished his 22-year MLB career with 630 home runs (currently 7th all-time) and a .284 batting average.
As for the victim of the Griffeys historic feat, McCaskill pitched one more season with the Angels before finishing out his major league career in 1996 with the White Sox. He later played in Italy and was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.
It was fun. I just wish we’d have won the game.
Ken Griffey Jr.
The son who hit the second home run
The MLB has uploaded the broadcast of the home runs to YouTube:
High-quality images of the game in question are scarce, so here’s a pic of the two Griffeys together in their Seattle days. The son is on the left, the father on the right:
I don’t like seeing it done against us, but it was nice to see. It’s like keeping up with the Joneses, but now it’s keeping up with Griffeys. It’s great for baseball and great for Seattle.
A California Angels outfielder
- In 1990, Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. became the first father-son pair to hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning of their game for Seattle against California.
- Despite the Griffeys building an early 3-0 lead, the Mariners lost the game to the Angels 7-5.
- Griffey Sr. played one more season with Seattle before retiring. Griffey Jr. went on to have a distinguished career that included 13 all-star nods and 630 home runs.