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. Sure Connie, Nice Move--NOT

    It's a little late for that, isn't it Rice? You and Georgie trashed this great nation and on the 11th hour, you want to send Ken Griffy, Jr. around. Do the young people know you trampled the Constitution and supported the worst president ever? I don't think so.

    Go out gracefully, and stop pandering. Oh, and could you be any more obvious. Everyone knows you want to be a sport's commisser, so why are you pandering to make brownie points with future employers. You are a joke.

    November 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  2. Just Leave, Leave

    Don't pay any attention to the sideshow behind the curtain. Rice's time is almost up and she's trying to pull a fast one on us.

    Don't leave angry or sad, just leave. Tick, tock.....

    November 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  3. zack, nj

    so how long does he have this job for.. until jan 20?

    November 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  4. Kwaku Adusei

    I don't think there are that many people outside the states who know this guy, no body cares about baseball except Japan, Cuba, Dominican Republic and the US ...and I bet he is not trying to go Cuba anytime soon ...

    November 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. karen-phoenix

    Positive republican. As a life long republican I am sooooo ashamed and disgusted by Limbaugh and Hanity. I voted for Obama and I want a united and positive America!!! This is good!!!

    November 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. rich

    Does he get paid or this is all voluntering? This inquiring mind wants to know.

    November 18, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. Paul

    Wonder if it'll bump his rookie card's value up 🙂

    November 18, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. George

    what is he going to accomplish in less than two months? No one can salvage this hip of mess in such a short time. What's condi doing appointing people, she should be packing her bags and leave governing to the competent leaders now being formed.

    November 18, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Ken in Dallas


    Condi lied through her teeth in the most important interview she ever gave... to the 9-11 commission.

    As for Griffey, yeah, sure, rah, rah, btw, does it mean anything at all?

    At least he doesn't have that nasal Queens thing goin on. I mean, really, Drescher? Really? Is her voice the voice of diplomacy, or a secret weapon?

    Fluff piece.

    November 18, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. Dave in Atlanta

    Yeah, because everyone in Slovenia knows who Ken Griffey jr. is.

    November 18, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. kevin(proud bleeding heart liberal) from washington state

    well hell have the job for a few months then he can sign with the mariners again and ill have a reason to pay the exorbiant prices to see the mariners of the few ball players who plays for the love of the game...i miss his back wards cap "the kid" nickname watching him rob the opposing tema of a homer by defying gravity and his trademark swing how he waited till the ball cleared the wall before starting the trot around the realistic he is 39 years old but the washington state misses him...and well what do we have to loose after our string of dissapointing seasons....

    November 18, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Alaskan Fame Junkie

    I had no idea that KGJr. had anything to do with politics.

    November 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. Jon

    As a longtime Mariner fan, I love the Griffeys. They are a solid American family and inspiration for many athletically minded youths.

    But this is awfully interesting nonetheless!

    Is he retiring?

    November 18, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. Tulsa

    okay..... not sure it's "newsworthy", but okay.
    I think it's fine, Griffey is a good man and will be a good envoy for kids and people who love baseball..... a positive guy showing a positive side of our Nation.

    November 18, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. Tulsa

    .....but Fran Drescher? Really?

    November 18, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Nads

    Woa, wait a second... Fran Drescher is a diplomatic envoy?

    November 18, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Ariel

    Now batting for the State department….number 24……Ken Griffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey Juuuuuuunior! (Hip hop hooray ho hay ho hay…)

    November 18, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. California Gold

    He will be employed for 63 days then a new administration. Leave it to Bush to offer fluff to the public. You lost your job, you lost your house, your kids are off to fight in 2 wars that the public is unhappy with, our tax dollars are thrown at helping corporate America without so much as a pittance to the taxpayer, so here is your Rah-Rah Guy to make you feel so good, so American. Insulting.

    November 18, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Il Voter

    and what exactly is this dude supposed to do? HE HE HE

    November 18, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Ellen

    How much is it costing us?

    November 18, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. FJ from Atlanta


    November 18, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Laverne

    This is great. I can just feel America moving in a new direction. The great part about an Obama Administration is all people will be represented, the face of the REAL AMERICA!

    November 18, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. Tino

    Umm... why?

    November 18, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. 3strikes

    "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.", she said.

    dont forget to hire one person each from other sport – basketball, hockey, football, horse racing, golf, each event from the summer and winter olympics, criquet, nascar. not everybody loves baseball, 3 hrs of hitting a ball and running around in circles like a bunch of headless chickens. not everybody knows him. i think condi's mind is....going, going, way gone.

    November 18, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Jaye

    Excellent choice!!!

    November 18, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
1 2 3 4