November 18th, 2008
02:15 PM ET
12 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. Pete

    I'm putting together a book on specific examples of the Bush administration trampling on our rights over the past 8 years. If you have a specific example, please post the details (please don't use real names) and I will accumulate the results and include a sampling in my book.

    November 18, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. Ron , West Coast

    Yeah, Ken Griffey Jr., good going...... Boo, Condoleeza Rice, Liar, Liar, Liar .....

    November 18, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Sue

    I love Griffey, but what is Rice doing making appointments when she's out of office in 8 weeks? What's next: Bush appointing Sarah envoy to the evangelicals?

    November 18, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. LyonsPhilly

    Positive stuff.

    November 18, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Marek

    That was a great choice. Griff is a great role model and an all around great person. He will be great!!!

    November 18, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Brian

    umm does this mean that Griffey will now be on the Holiday Inn Express commercials?

    November 18, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Marek

    I don't think Coni'd a liar...she did what she was told to do. Simply like those who serve our great nation in the military, she was just following orders...period!!

    November 18, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Lori

    Ken Griffey, Jr., good, good, great, Condoleeza, going, going, GONE

    November 18, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Joe PA

    Sweet I hope this makes his 1989 Upper deck Rookie card go up in value!!!! I have 5 of them.

    November 18, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. KLEE

    Keepin' it positive.....please keep it positive! The real winners are always the ones who have others best interests at heart and then act on it.

    November 18, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. No Bail

    Shame on you Ron. Condi was the only bright light in the administration after Powell left!

    November 18, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. zenter


    November 18, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Greed is not good

    Looks like the worst President in U.S. history is running out of things to talk about.

    November 18, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Mike in Ohio

    Outstanding news! As a Cincinnati Reds fan following Griffey all of these years, I have always seen him as not just a great ballplayer, but as a truly good person. Great to see him taking on a role like this!

    November 18, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Scott NYC Independent

    What and how is he to do what it is that he has been picked to do? I think with out new President this might be a none issue post.

    November 18, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. karen

    Great choice

    November 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. mike

    Finally, There's one that didn't work for Bill Clinton and is a true Washington outsider. And appointed by a Republican to boot!! Now the multi-millionaire baseball player can travel the world on the taxpayer dime. What a world!?

    November 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Jan Hjelm, Kramfors Sweden

    I´ve never heard of the guy. Baseball... it's not a sport, it's just statistics with an occasional homerun to watch – which take hours. How this combination could make good diplomacy beats me. You have to come up with something that people out in the real BIG world cares about. Until then Condis choice just cements my opinion that USA is selfcentered and can't think outside the box

    November 18, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Ellen in Ohio

    Awesome! Griffey is what all MLB players should strive to be more like. In other countries where baseball is an international pasttime (many Latin-American ones, and Japan, for example), he could have an impact.

    November 18, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. Matt

    Griffey will be great, but I hope he'll be greater than he was for my beloved White Sox last season :(. PS to the fools out there – Nobody lied, so get over it. There's a difference between being wrong and being a liar. And Obama won, Bush is leaving... it's OVER. Just like Republicans need to get over Bill Clinton, still re-living 1998 on a daily basis. It's pathetic and mindless hatred.

    November 18, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. Pete Peter

    Way to go Condi !!!

    November 18, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Jon

    Well, he can't really be called a home run hitter anymore, so I suppose it's time for a title change.

    November 18, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Endru in NC

    marek wrote: "I don't think Coni'd a liar…she did what she was told to do. Simply like those who serve our great nation in the military, she was just following orders…period!!"

    That sounds disturbingly like what the Brown Shirts said at Nuremberg. Do you want to really hold that up as the right thing to do?

    November 18, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. bobbybomb

    Ummm, Ken G. Jr. is great and all, but to say baseball is oour "most famoous" sport. It is a distant, very distant second to Football and if you include college football it is a distant third.

    November 18, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Patrick, Fairfield, CA

    What a great suggestion and honor this must be for Mr. Griffey. I wish him well and I do hope that he can do some good and restore baseball's image that is still in need of repair both at home and abroad!

    November 18, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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