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Reds knew Griffey would go deep

Reds knew Griffey would go deep

MIAMI -- Reds shortstop Jerry Hairston Jr. knew Ken Griffey Jr. was going to go deep for the 600th time in his career Monday -- the left-handed slugger told him so.

Hairston was so sure Griffey would deliver on his promise that after he figured he broke his left thumb while stealing second base in the first inning, he wanted to stay on base because he wanted to score when "The Kid" hit his milestone home run.

"To be honest with you, I was a little selfish because I said, 'Maybe Junior hits his 600th,'" Hairston said. "He told me he was going to hit his 600th today, and I said, 'This guy is crazy enough to do it. He's hit a lot of them, so maybe he was right.'"

He was. Griffey got a 3-1 curveball from Marlins starter Mark Hendrickson and hit it over the fence in right field. After he rounded the bases, he got a hug from manager Dusty Baker and then his 14-year-old son, Trey.

Baker knows a little bit about milestone home runs. The first-year Reds skipper has now been on the field with five of the six members of the elite 600-home run club, having managed Griffey, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, played against Willie Mays and been on the Braves when Henry Aaron connected for his 715th home run.

"It was awesome," Baker said. "Every time you see a milestone like that, it doesn't take away from any of the others, it just adds on to it. I'm very pleased and proud to be the manager here when Junior reached that milestone.

"He told me he was going to do it, and he did it. He said, 'I always keep my word.' That's the first thing he told me."

Fellow outfielder and good friend Adam Dunn was happy to see Griffey hit it because of the monkey he could get off his back after going 26 plate appearances between No. 599 and No. 600.

"He doesn't have to hear it anymore," Dunn said. "He never admitted it, but I think it was taking a toll. It would take a toll on anybody. But I would imagine now that he's probably going to get hot and start throwing homers left and right now."

Although he's now a grown man at 32 years old, Hairston still remembers looking up to Griffey when he was younger.

"He was one of my boyhood heroes growing up," Hairston said. "He was like our Michael Jordan growing up. To play with him and watch him hit his 600th home run and be on base when he did it, it's something special for me."

In time for Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals, the Reds will hang a 54-foot banner at the Crosley Terrace entrance of Great American Ball Park saluting Griffey's 600th career home run.

The Reds will honor Griffey during pregame ceremonies on Tuesday, June 17 at 7:10 p.m. against the Dodgers. All fans attending that game will receive an art card, presented by Toyota, commemorating the historic homer.

Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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