Almost a decade ago, when Ken Griffey Jr. attended his first board meeting of the national Boys and Girls Clubs, he found himself sitting between the Rev. "Monk" Malloy, president of Notre Dame University, and Colin Powell, prior to becoming Secretary of State.
"I just sat there like this the whole time," Griffey said, demonstrating the look of a slightly overwhelmed youngster. "When they wrote something down, I grabbed some paper and wrote it down, too. Colin Powell asked me what I was doing. I said, 'If you feel it's important, it must be important. So I'm going to write everything you write down because this is my first meeting.'
"I'm the youngest [board] member. There's 64 members. Forty of them are CFO's and presidents of big companies. Eight of them are Fortune 500 company presidents."
Griffey has immersed himself in helping direct the Boys and Girls Clubs. He first chose the organization after earning the MVP award in the 1992 All-Star Game. The MVP typically donates a vehicle to his favorite charity, so the Mariners' media relations director gave him a list of charities and Griffey picked the Boys and Girls Clubs.
"The biggest thing is that you're trying to build a better future for kids," he said. "It's important. [I have] kids who are at the age where trends change and I'm basically keeping my ear to the ground in the neighborhood. My kids are members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida. It's important for kids to understand we are human."
Griffey sometimes has to pick his spots for involvement, though. For example, he is not allowed to attend a benefit dinner his wife, Melissa, stages for the Boys and Girls Clubs because they don't want the fund-raising event to turn into a massive meet-and-greet autograph session.
"All the wives show up, but I'm not allowed there," he said. "They don't want it to be a sideshow. I showed up once. I walked in. All hell broke loose. They told me to go. I haven't been back since."
Griffey staged a golf tournament in 2005 to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs. Incentive checks from the likes of Rawlings are donated to the organization at year's end.
Griffey grew up in Cincinnati and has played in his hometown for the past seven seasons. But he is still involved in Boys and Girls Clubs in central Florida and Seattle. Among the items he provided were football uniforms, but his personal involvement is prized so much more.
"Most of the time they just want time," he said. "That's the important thing is if guys can give their time. Not so much the money, but where kids can see you.
"I bring 50 of them from Florida, 50 from Cincinnati and 50 from Seattle, and they all get together usually for a couple of days either in Florida or Cincinnati, just to hang out. They'll go to games or to King's Island near Cincinnati or the [theme] parks in Florida. They'll have a big ol' dinner and have some fun."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.