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Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter receives special gift from Ken Griffey Jr.

SEATTLE -- Right-hander Tommy Hunter will return from the team's 10-game West Coast road trip with a special souvenir from the team’s stop in Seattle over the weekend.

Hunter was a huge fan of former Seattle Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr. when he was younger — especially during Griffey’s time with the Cincinnati Reds since Hunter grew up nearby in Indianapolis.

Hunter also has a notable tie to Griffey, who made a visit to the Orioles clubhouse before Friday’s game at Safeco Field. While pitching for the Texas Rangers, Hunter gave up the final home run of Griffey’s career on Oct. 3, 2009. Griffey’s 630 career homers are sixth on the all-time list.

So when Griffey was in the clubhouse, Hunter asked him for a signed jersey, requesting that he inscribe something on it. He also casually reminded Griffey that he gave up his final homer.

“He asked me what I wanted him to write on it,” Hunter said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know, write something. You were my idol growing up.’

“What is it, Nintendo 64? … [The] Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball [video game]. And playing in the movie ‘Little Big League’ when he made that catch where he ran 900 feet? Come on, he was a folk hero to a lot of us.”

By the end of Friday's game, a Mariners jersey autographed by Griffey was delivered over to the Orioles clubhouse for Hunter.

The inscription on Griffey’s jersey number?

“Thanks for giving up the last one. No. 630.”

Hunter said: “My friends think it’s cool as [anything]. It’s one of the coolest autographs I think I have.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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