EDITOR'S NOTE: WCPO is looking back on Ken Griffey Jr.'s life growing up in Cincinnati, stunning success and Hall of Fame career. See all of our coverage at WCPO.com/griffey.
CINCINNATI - It was the mid 80s, the Big Red Machine was long gone, and the Reds were being retooled.
And we heard about a soft spoken, 16-year-old kid for the Midland Redskins named Ken Griffey Jr.
Midland was a tremendous amateur baseball program, winning national titles in droves under the legendary Joe Hayden.
We went to practice in 1986 to watch Junior learning the ropes.
"I go over things with him and ask him what I'm doing wrong and stuff like that," said Griffey.
Next, we checked him out launching drives for Moeller High School, turning a poor outfielder this way and that way - no way - as the home run ball sailed over his head.
"He was as natural a ballplayer as I think I'll ever see," said Moeller's Mike Cameron, who also coached Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and won four state titles.
"He threw different, ran different, swung the bat different."
It wasn't hard to figure out why. In the spring of 1987, Junior was in the Braves dugout, watching his dad launch a home run to right at Riverfront Stadium against his dad's former team.
Junior greeted his dad at the top of the dugout, and, wow, how much he had grown!
By this time, scouts for every big-league clubs had noticed.
On a summer afternoon that same year, the Seattle Mariners drafted the 17-year-old with the very first pick.
"We feel obviously that Ken has the tools and makeup to be a complete major-league player with star potential," said the Mariners area scout, Tom Mooney.
Junior said it didn't matter that he was the No. 1 pick. He just wanted an opportunity to play. And that's what he got.
No one could have predicted what happened next – or how quickly.
NEXT: The Kid makes a big splash in Seattle.