Reds clubhouse manager Stowe remembers Griffey Jr. the ‘family man’

Rick Stowe and Ken Griffey Jr. don’t have much in common, but they do share one strong connection – they’re both second-generation Reds.

Stowe, the team’s home clubhouse manager, is a son of longtime Cincinnati equipment manager Bernie Stowe, who passed away in February. Griffey, of course, is a son of Ken Griffey Sr., the right fielder on the 1970s Big Red Machine teams.

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“I grew up with all of those guys,” Rick said on Friday, referring to Griffey Sr.’s sons, Ken Jr. and Craig, and other Reds’ offspring such as Pete Rose Jr. and Eduardo and Victor Perez, the sons of Tony Perez. “I remember running around Riverfront Stadium with those guys.”

Stowe was thrilled when the Reds traded for Griffey Jr. in February 2000, and he was excited on Friday to be preparing to travel with a group that will represent the franchise at Griffey’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

While Griffey’s baseball exploits are well-chronicled – glowing enough that he set a record by drawing 99.3 percent of the votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of American who are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame – Stowe has a different perspective.

“He is a family man,” Stowe said. “His son, Trey, is about the same age as my son, Luke, and any time he would do something for Trey, he would do the same thing for Luke. He took them both to a LeBron James camp in Cleveland. That was the first time Luke had room service. If he ordered bats from Louisville Slugger for Trey, he’d get some for Luke. If he ordered a set of golf clubs for Trey, he’d order a set for Luke. He’s phenomenal. He treated my kid like family, and he treated my whole staff great. He could’ve been a prima donna and demanded a lot of stuff, but he didn’t.”

 

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A Louisville Slugger representative once told Stowe he always knew where the Reds were because whichever team they had just played would place orders for the C271, 34-inch, 31-1/2-ounce model favored by Griffey.

Stowe was joining Reds Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini, other members of the franchise ownership group, President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty and General Manager Dick Williams for the trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., to personally witness Griffey’s induction. Cincinnati right fielder Jay Bruce will be occupied playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks and will have to settle for recording the ceremony, but that won’t dull his appreciation.

“He’s been on that road for a long time, since he was 29 or 30,” said Bruce, who played with Griffey in 2008 before Griffey was traded to the Chicago White Sox. “I’m excited for him. That’s obviously the biggest honor for any player, and to go in with the most votes ever makes it even more special.”

Bruce still recalls how excited he was to be playing with his idol.

“The first time I walked into this clubhouse, he was sitting on a big, black trunk,” said Bruce, who occupies the cubicles once used by Griffey. “I was 18 years old. A couple of years later, I was playing center field and he was in right. Now I’m standing where he stood. It’s unbelievable. Even when I got here, there were still some flashes of brilliance, even though he was 35 or 37 and not 100 percent. I couldn’t even say it was a dream come true, because I would never have dared dream it.”

Bruce paused and smiled.

“Sheesh, we’re talking about him like he’s dead,” he said. “Above all is he’s a friend. He’s a good person. We stay in touch. We talk as much about family and other things as we do baseball. I asked him if he was ready (with his speech), and he said ‘No.’ That’s a Ken thing, but it’s also a Ken thing to know that he will be ready.”

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