November 18th, 2008
02:15 PM ET
11 years ago

Ken Griffey, Jr. named Public Diplomacy Envoy

Secretary Rice announced Tuesday that Ken Griffey, Jr. has been named a public diplomacy envoy on behalf of the United States.

Secretary Rice announced Tuesday that Ken Griffey, Jr. has been named a public diplomacy envoy on behalf of the United States.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - He has thrilled sports fans for over twenty years with his hitting and fielding exploits. But can Major League baseball star Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a grand slam for the State Department?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named Griffey a public diplomacy envoy Tuesday, tasking the All-Star slugger with spreading "the values of the United States" in large part by helping to spark "interest in America and in our culture."

"Public diplomacy must be a dialogue," Rice said after meeting with Griffey in Washington. "This dialogue must extend to every citizen in every country, especially to young people."

She noted that Griffey is uniquely qualified to engage young people given his stature as one of the best-known players in what is arguably the country's most famous sport.

"This is quite an honor," Griffey noted. "I think youth is the most important thing. (I am) looking forward to this opportunity to teach kids (and help) develop them."

Former baseball star Cal Ripken Jr., figure-skater Michelle Kwan and actress Fran Drescher have also chosen to become public diplomacy envoys in recent years.

Griffey's first trip as a diplomatic envoy will be to Panama in January.

Griffey, who turns 39 on November 21, recently filed for free agency after the Chicago White Sox declined a $16.5 million option on his 2009 contract. He was first drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1987.

Griffey is currently ranked number five on the all-time homerun leader list. He won ten consecutive Gold Glove awards between 1990 and 2000.


Filed under: Condoleezza Rice
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. nate

    Nothing like following in the footsteps of...FRAN DRESCHER???

    November 18, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. James

    Condoleezza Rice is a very intelligent woman and an amazing person. In many ways it a great accomplishment for her to have made it to Sec. of State. It is sad that people cannot see beyond the partisanship.

    November 18, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW

    NEWS MUST BE REALLY SLOW TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!

    I WISH THEY WOULD HAVE SOME BREAKING NEW ABOUT OBAMAS BIRTH PLACE WHICH IS VERY EASY TO LOOK UP!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 18, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. CityK

    You smell that

    November 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Andrew K, Chicago

    Coming from a Chicago Cubs fan...

    ...this will do nothing but give the narrow-minded White Sox fans to the south of me something *else* about which to boast.

    November 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. CanIcallyouJoe

    Yes, because nothing makes America look like a progressive, peace loving nation than to send over one of our overpaid, mindless sports entertainment drones.

    I'm sure the starving peoples of the world will really appreciate us sending one of our rich and over privileged to tell them how "we feel their pain".

    Also, ".....with spreading 'the values of the United States' in large part by helping to spark 'interest in America and in our culture.'"

    ...I believe Hitler tried that one. Hold on, I have to go find my history encyclopedia to read how that one turned out....oh.

    November 18, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. HouseDiva

    why cant normal citizens hold these type of positions?

    as if being a celebrity isn't enough???

    i wonder how many celebrity and journalist spies we have out there?

    November 18, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. ken

    wow, I am amazed by Americans. They want fresh people,no they will travel with tax payer money, no they will not represent well. Cmon folks, spit what you want!

    November 18, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. norb

    Public Diplomacy Envoy? All I can say is "Mission Accomplished"

    November 18, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Kin (Anaheim, Ca.)

    Griff your talents will inspire more sports heroes to step up.

    I have a 22 yr. old son who thinks the world of you and this will help to inspire him and other young adults step up.

    I am glad that your mind is on the right track.

    *********Go Mr. Griffey Go********

    November 18, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. ethan

    he makes tens of millions off of playing a game and even more from endorsements.
    i'd say that ranks under current american idealism...

    November 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. doug

    Many years ago, KGJr. distinguished himself as the only player to sneak out of the stadium through a side door after a game to avoid the kids who had waited in the parking lot for an hour or more, thinking that they might get an autograph. The other players all appeared and interacted with the kids, but not Jr. I was the father of one of these kids, and I was not impressed. Now he's talking about helping kids. Perhaps Jr. has learned some degree of humility, or perhaps he is still a prima donna who only thinks of himself.

    November 18, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  13. Tim

    Ryan Howard got robbed again!

    November 18, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. Jean2

    IS THE USA RECRUTING BASEBALL PLAYERS???????

    November 18, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. thomas

    This is so cool. Griffey is my favorite soccer player.

    November 18, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. Marc in Virginia

    Ken Griffey, Jr. is so incredibly annoying. I'd much rather see Barry Bonds in this role, no joke.

    November 18, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Patrick

    A lot of people are saying a lot of snappy things about this. Hell, I'm just glad it's positive news about a guy who wants to do positive things. It's not much of a story, but good luck Ken. Glad you are trying to give back.

    Peace.

    November 18, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. California Girl

    Ken Griffey, Jr., your on the wrong team.

    November 18, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. susan

    Why Not..who are all you people? Grow up! Give the guy a chance.

    November 18, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  20. Gene

    Ken Griffey Jr. for Sec. of State! If he comes to a disagreement with foreign nationals.. he can just beat 'em up with a bat 🙂

    November 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. Erika, KS

    Condi is part of the Bush Administration. That means she is part of the problem. Ken? He's an athlete, has no place in politics. Hey, Obama, have you hired Oprah yet? Hired any white people? Hired anyone who is biracial? What a bunch of losers.

    November 18, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. Chris F.

    @No Bail, You are an idiot. Condi Rice was the worst of the bunch except maybe Bush and Cheney. She was too willing to do Bush's bidding. Bush made her Secretary of State when he should of asked Powell back. She was his lap dog and never disagreed with him on anything..

    November 18, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  23. earle,florida

    Finally, we have a true outstanding individual we all can look up to,especially Condoleezza ,whom is a hug baseball fan herself. Good move Obama, you got a two-fer...

    November 18, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. c

    funnily enough the article on the ticker "Obama selects 1st black attorney general" is no longer open for comment....

    well moderator-i guess you'll close this one out for comment when people start saying stuff like:

    "SURPRISE SURPRISE.....NOW SPORTS FIGURES ARE GOING TO REPRESENT OUR COUNTRY IN A POLITICAL ROLE?!...WHO'S NEXT MICHAEL JORDAN OR MIKE TYSON CAN BE THE HEAD OF NATIONAL SECURITY....MAYBE WHITNEY HOUSTON CAN RUN THE D.E.A!!!"

    WHAT A FRIGGIN' JOKE!!!! "NO'BAMA"

    November 18, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  25. Tom

    Andrew K, Chicago: No reason to be bitter because you're Cubs fan.

    November 18, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
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