Ken Griffey Jr. sits in front of his office computer at his Florida home, his fingers racing across the keyboard, searching to ensure his memory is as pristine as his baseball swing.
There it is, he found it: April 13, 1989. His major-league debut in the Seattle Mariners’ season-opener against the Oakland Athletics. He scans the box score.
Harold Reynolds batted leadoff. Griffey was the No. 2 hitter. First baseman Alvin Davis batted third. Darnell Coles was the cleanup hitter. Jeffrey Leonard was at DH. And Greg Briley was their left fielder.
The first six players in the Mariners’ starting lineup were Black, with five other Black players on the team. The team they were facing that day, the Oakland Athletics, had four Black players on the field with Tony Phillips, Dave Henderson, Dave Parker and starting pitcher Dave Stewart.
The next year, the Mariners had seven Black position players, including Griffey’s dad.