Seattle - Some say he was born to be in the baseball Hall of Fame.  After all, The Kid as Ken Griffey, Jr. was once called, shares the same birthday and birthplace as Hall of Famer Stan Musial, both born on November 21 in the town of Donora, Pennsylvania.


Back in 1989, the son of legendary Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey, he of the Big Red Machine fame in the 1970s, came to the Seattle Mariners at the tender age of 19.  He played 127 games that season, batted .264 and hit 16 homers to go with 64 RBI.


It was just the beginning of the fun.


It was the foundation for Griffey's certain election one day to join Musial in Cooperstown, a career that would find him hitting 398 of his 611 home runs in Mariners uniform number 24, the number he chose to honor the great Willie Mays.  The "best" of Junior came during his final four years in Seattle, from 1996-99, when he hit 49, 56, 56 and 48 homers in successive seasons before departing for his childhood hometown of Cincinnati, where injuries limited him badly after hitting 40 home runs in 2000.


  Since 2001 when he turned 31, in three seasons he has hit less than 19 homers.  But he did show flashes of his old self with 35 round trippers in 2005 and 30 more in 2007.  Now, at the age of 38, he is back in Seattle, maybe not The Kid, but certainly no Ancient Mariner.


There is still some production in his bat, still a lot of leadership to give out to a team that is looking for a return to glory.  Perhaps Griffey, Jr. can restore that.


To honor his homecoming in 2009, and to put some smiles on the faces of local youngsters at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Seattle and Portland whom Griffey has supported over the years, Nikco Sports announced it will celebrate his return with a  special limited edition Ken Griffey, Jr. "Welcome Back" baseball, complete with a handsome acrylic display case.  Only 2,009 baseballs will be produced, and this historic collectible will be sold for $39.95.  To order, fans can call 1-800-345-2868 or visit  Each baseball comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity.


             In recent years, Nikco Sports has raised more than $1.7 million for children's charities, and several past projects have taken place in the Seattle area to celebrate Ichiro, Edgar Martinez and the Seattle Seahawks.


Various panels on the Welcome Back Griffey, Jr. Baseball will recap some highlights of his career as a Mariner, including when he was the team's No. 1 draft pick in 1987, his 1997 Most Valuable Player award and his inclusion on the MLB All-Century Team.


Another panel will showcase a colorful picture of Junior, and another will chronicle him winning 10 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Slugger Awards, 13 times being an All-Star and a notation that his 611 home runs ranks 5th all-time.  One other panel on the baseball will feature some team highlights of the Mariners over the years, including Western Division titles and Wild Card appearances.