Why Ken Griffey Jr. gave Joe Buck the 'biggest s–t-eating grin you’ve ever seen'


When you think about Ken Griffey Jr., you probably think about his smooth swing, backwards hat, and bright smile. But it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies for the slugger.

Griffey Jr. had a tough time getting into the swing of things when he returned to Cincinnati to play for the Reds, and Joe Buck took notice on a Cardinals-Reds broadcast.

Buck was a guest on the new Audacy Original Podcast “The PBP: The Voices of Baseball” and recalled the time that Griffey Jr. shot him a “ridiculous smile” from the field.

“He said ‘I got something I want to say to you.’ I said ‘Clearly, I keep watching you look at me with this side-eye glare,’” Buck recalled (19:55 in player above). “He goes ‘My wife, she can’t stand the Reds announcers so she listens to the other team’s broadcast when we’re playing on the road. She was listening to you and you said last night that it looks like I don’t ever smile anymore. And the best thing about Ken Griffey Jr. back in the day was the ear-to-ear grin and the hat backwards and the guy who looked like he was having the time of his life, and you said I don’t smile anymore.’”

Buck had been watching Griffey Jr. take batting practice and the star outfielder was giving him a look the whole time.

“Before I could answer, he goes ‘Let me tell you why. If you get traded back to your hometown and everybody expects this. I’ve had death threats and I’ve had blah blah blah,’” he continued.

“And I was like ‘OK, isn’t that kind of what I said? So you don’t look like you’re having fun anymore.’ And he goes ‘Tonight, I’m going to give you the biggest s–t-eating grin you’ve ever seen in your life.’”

By the end of it, Buck and Griffey Jr. were talking like old friends. Buck was very much a recognizable name and face by that point, as was the Reds outfielder.

Griffey Jr. made good on his promise to Buck prior to his first at-bat of the game.

“He leaves the on-deck circle, I swear to God, takes two steps, stops, looks up to me – who he just met – in the Cardinals TV broadcast booth, gives this ridiculous smile up to me, and then walks in and goes for his first at-bat,” Buck said. “That was the most odd great thing that I’ve ever experienced.”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images