A pregame visit from Mr. October himself, monuments of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio at his back, a packed house in Yankee Stadium . . . nope, Seattle center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. couldn't have written a better script than this.
"Of all the places to play your first playoff game, this is probably the one place you'd want to start," said Griffey, whose brief but illustrious career had included almost everything except a postseason appearance until Tuesday night. "I'm not in awe of this place, but it is very special."
Griffey spent his share of summer nights roaming Yankee Stadium when his father, Ken Griffey Sr., played for the Yankees from 1982-86.
His outstanding memory?
"I was playing pickle with Lou Piniella's son in the hallway [outside the Yankee clubhouse] and Billy Martin kicked us out of the place," Griffey said.
Former Yankee World Series hero Reggie Jackson stopped by the Mariner clubhouse before the game and, after telling reporters he thought Griffey was the most talented player he had seen since Willie Mays, went over to wish the 24-year-old Settle outfielder luck.
"I'd like to go rub my bat against him," a wide-eyed Griffey said. "Maybe it would bring me luck."
It was an hour before game time Tuesday night when the Mariners suffered their first injury. Relief pitcher Bill Risley was shagging balls in the outfield during batting practice when he and pitcher Bob Wells collided trying to catch a fly ball.
The ball hit Risley in the left ear and knocked him down. He had to be helped off the field and seemed disoriented as he headed to the clubhouse, but Piniella said he was available.
Yankee rookie left-hander Andy Pettitte (12-9) will oppose Mariner right-hander Andy Benes (7-2) in Game 2 tonight.