Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (SNES)

Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Sculptured Software | March 1994 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Software Creations | March 1994 | 16 MEGS

Yesterday, June 20, marked the first day of summer (2017). I love the summer time. It just takes me back to my youth. To a time of innocence and hot lazy summer days spent playing the latest 16-bit games with my brother and our friends. Summer also always makes me think of baseball. It’s hard not to get romantic about baseball. It’s my first true love as far as sports go. And the best baseball game on the SNES is hands down Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball. My brother and I owned this game back in the mid ’90s and we played it to death. Never once did we get sick of it. It’s amazing how well it holds up more than 20 years later. I still frequently play it and I probably always will. This will be more of a love letter than a review. Because damn do I love this game!

MEET “THE KID”

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Lovely little intro.

Arguably the best 16-bit baseball game of all time
Arguably the best 16-bit baseball game of all time
It's sure got my vote
It sure has my vote

WHO IS “THE KID” KEN GRIFFEY?

One of the best baseball stars from the '90s
One of the best baseball stars from the ’90s

Ken Griffey Jr., the son of a Major Leaguer, shagged fly balls and took batting practice with the game’s best players from a young age. This experience paved the way for his own big league career. In 1989, at the tender age of 19, Griffey’s lively bat and dazzling defense led him to make the Mariners’ opening day lineup. In his Major League debut he showed the poise of a veteran, doubling off Oakland ace Dave Stewart in his first at bat. Throughout his first season, Griffey’s stellar defensive achievements drew immediate comparisons to the original Kid, Willie Mays. His love for the game was handed down from his father, Ken Griffey Sr., who played 19 seasons in the Majors and won two World Series rings with the Cincinnati Reds. Coincidentally, Griffey Jr. spent most of the 2000s as a member of the Reds.

Destined for greatness
Destined for greatness

In 1990 the pair made Major League history as the first father and son to play together on the same team. Later that season, the Griffey duo smashed back-to-back home runs in the first inning of a game against the California Angels. Following the 1990 season, Jr. won his first Gold Glove to become the youngest American League player to receive that honor. Not satisfied with being described as a potential star, Jr. made huge strides in 1991 and 1992. In 1991, the 21 year old set a team record by hitting .327 and in 1992 he led the Mariners with 27 home runs. He also drove in 203 runs during that two season stretch and was named the MVP of the 1992 All-Star Game in San Diego.

1993 proved to be the year of the KID
1993 proved to be the year of the KID

1993 was the year that transformed Ken Griffey Jr. from a star to a legitimate MVP candidate. En route to clouting a (then) career high 45 home runs, Griffey tied a Major League record by hitting at least one home run in eight consecutive games. In 1994 — a season cut short by the baseball players’ strike — Griffey broke Mickey Mantle’s record of 20 home runs through May on May 23. He was on his way to break Roger Maris’ home run record of 61, which no one had come close to challenging since Maris met the record more than 30 years ago. Shame about that strike. We’ll never know.

What a tremendous five year start
What a five year start!

THE KID AND ME

Sometimes the smallest moments carry us through
Sometimes the smallest moments carry us through

I was in the middle of 7th grade when my family moved us in January of 1996. It was difficult adjusting. The kids in my new town were nice to me, but they weren’t like the ones “back home.” Moving away from my best friend Nelson was particularly hard. One quirky memory I have of those early months in my new town involved “The Kid.” After school one day I was walking out when I saw a card lying by the bushes. It was a Donruss ’89 Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Seeing it made me think of the Griffey SNES game, which brought a smile to my face during a time when I found it difficult to smile. Like a hero reaching out to save me, I reached down and plucked the card out of the dirt, brushing it off as I held it up in the glistening sun to admire it. Sure, the corners were nicked somewhat and the card surely had seen better days. But to me, in that moment, its imperfections were perfect. My brother and I would go on to buy the Griffey SNES game later that same year. We wore out our thumbs playing it to death. Playing the game helped me get through my hometown blues in those early days. I still fondly remember all the times I spent playing the game after a particularly tough day, and how it lifted me up in those trying times. Thanks, Kid.

REAL MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYERS!

This book was a game changer, pardon the pun
This book was a game changer, pardon the pun

Sharp baseball fans knew that while Ken Griffey was the only real named player in the game, the whole game was based on real players all. It had authentic stats but used fake names instead. All stats are based off the 1993 season. Cleverly using a name edit feature, one could edit the game to have all the real players’ names! My brother and I were at this mom and pop book store in 1996 and there we found THE SCOUTING REPORT: 1994. For just five bucks, we now had access to all the real players! We went to town with the edit feature later that night in order to make our game 100% authentic.

Very sneaky of Software Creations. Brilliant!
Very sneaky of Software Creations. Brilliant!
The game's stats matched the 1993 stats to a tee
The game’s stats matched the 1993 stats to a tee
Look what happens when you try to be immature...
Look what happens when you try to be immature…
Just kidding, not really
OK, not really
Hey, I can be shameless from time to time
Hey, I can be shameless from time to time
Barry's reaction to hitting #756  (August 8, 2007)
Barry’s reaction to hitting #756 (August 8, 2007)

Barry Bonds, even before he likely took steroids in the late ’90s, was one of the game’s very best. Long before he broke Hammering Hank Aaron’s home run record of 755 bombs, he was already a major force to be reckoned with. Many considered him and Griffey to be the top two talents throughout the 1990s. His bio in THE SCOUTING REPORT is fun to look back on.

He put the choke thing to rest in the 2002 World Series
“The Man” and “The Kid” carried baseball in the ’90s
Wow, 43 million. That's now money for a journeyman!
Wow, 43 million. That’s now money for a journeyman

AIN’T A TEAM IF YA AIN’T GOT A THEME!

The fake names are hilarious here. Rather than being random and generic, each team has a theme. For instance, the Chicago White Sox features former star athletes from St. John’s University: Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin and the late Malik Sealy to name but three.

The California Angels have famous actors: Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, etc.

The Boston Red Sox features members from Cheers (Norm Peterson, Sam Malone, Cliff Claven), Boston Universities (Harvard, Radcliffe) and key figures from early American history (John Adams, John Hancock and Andrew Jackson).

The Atlanta Braves makes reference to famous DJs like Sasha and Digweed. Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff is “D. Crime” and “Neon” Deion Sanders is “D. Neon.”

The Colorado Rockies will instantly be identified by horror film aficionados, with names like George Romero, Roger Corman, Vincent Price, Wes Craven, Alfred Hitchcock, Bela Lugosi and Tom Savini.

There’s even a team dedicated to the great females of past generations, a team for Software Creations itself and Nintendo of America. Good stuff.

THE TEAMS

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Choose from one of 28 Major League teams. 1993 saw the inclusion of two expansion teams: the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins. Please note that today there are 30 teams (Tampa Bay Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks). Additionally, the Brewers moved to the National League and the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals. Some team logos have changed as well.

THE BALLPARKS

All 28 of them!
All 28 of them!

SOME OF MY FAVORITES…

Love the warehouse that looms in the background
Love the warehouse that looms in the background

Ol’ Camden Yards in downtown Baltimore is a beaut. The infamous B&O Warehouse in the backdrop is a classic sight. At eight stories tall and 1,016 feet long it’s been the longest building on the East Coast since it was completed after seven years of construction in 1905. Standing 432 feet from home plate, only one player has managed to hit the warehouse. That man, ironically, was Ken Griffey Jr., who smashed a 445 foot shot while competing in the 1993 Home Run Derby contest.

Ah, baseball historians know what this means!
Ah, baseball historians know what this means!
Honor the man!
Honor the man!

Another Junior, Cal Ripken Jr., made Major League history on September 6, 1995 when he played in his 2,131st consecutive game. It broke the 56 year record held by “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig. Cal retired having played 2,632 games straight. That’s a record that you can bet will never be touched. Sorry Tony Stark, but Cal is the real Iron Man.

Otherwise, Camden Yards is pretty damn accurate
Otherwise, Camden Yards is pretty damn accurate
HD scoreboards are all the rage now
HD scoreboards are all the rage now
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City

Kauffman Stadium is another striking ballpark, most notable for its roaring water fountains in the outfield. How did it fare in 16-bits?

Not shabby at all
Not shabby at all
A little slice of Heaven
A little slice of Heaven

You can’t discuss classic ballparks without bringing up Wrigley Field. Some have even called it a slice of Heaven. One thing’s for sure, it’s a field of dreams and a field for the ages.

As Harry Caray would say, "HOLY COW!"
As Harry Caray would say, “HOLY COW!”
Love the quirky design
Love the quirky design

But just how accurate is it in Ken Griffey Jr.? Do the outfield walls jut in and out as they do in real life?

You bet your ass they do!
You bet your ass they do!
Be careful of that brick wall and door there...
Be careful of that brick wall and door there…

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[I wouldn't bet on that -Ed.]
[I wouldn’t bet on that -Ed.]
Last but not least...
Last but not least…

Fenway Park. The classic CITGO sign behind the Green Monster (the tall wall in left field), the medium wall in center and the short in right. What a timeless design.

Absolutely breathtaking
Absolutely breathtaking
And who could forget the Fisk Foul Pole?
And who could forget the Fisk Foul Pole?
Or Pesky's Pole? At 302 feet just like in real life!
Or Pesky’s Pole?
Who are you, Manny Ramirez?!
Who are you, Manny Ramirez?!
Or perfect for "cheapie" home runs ;)
Or perfect for “cheapie” home runs ;)

RATINGS R US

Players are rated from 1-10 in these categories:

  • BAT: Base hit potential
  • POW: Home run potential
  • SPD: Speed around the base path
  • DEF: How strong his arm is

KenGriff42Ken Griffey Jr., not surprisingly, has the highest ratings of any player in the game. His total of 36 points makes him the only “red” player in the game. The background colors are based on the player’s point total. I love how at a quick glance you can see how good (or bad) a player might be. Now it has to be said that these colors (and ratings) are not the be all end all. Some players simply hit better than others in spite of their supposed ratings! The game has a lot of these quirks and oddities that I will highlight below.

KenGriff43A player with low BAT and/or low POW can still be a legitimate threat. I smacked 24 homers with Queens in a 162 game season and his POW is a measly 3. His BAT is a paltry 4 and yet I finished batting .318 with him. So don’t automatically assume the ratings tell the whole story! POW is far more important than BAT, but most important of all is the stance of the batter oddly enough, as well as the timing of your swings.

So don’t write a batter off simply based on his POW/BAT stats. As a long time Griffey player, and I have easily played over 1,000 games since ’94, I have also noticed the following, when it comes to player ratings:

  • Generally, a POW of 7 or higher means you’re pretty much good for 30+ home runs in a 162 game season. There’s a BIG difference between POW 6 and POW 7.
  • Likewise, there is a BIG difference between SPD 6 and SPD 7. With a speed of 7, your guy is capable of wrecking havoc on the base path, but a guy with speed 6 just doesn’t have that extra gear.

KenGriff44Speaking of speed and power differences, although all ratings are even (i.e. ratings are not based on .5 increments), secretly there appears to be “highs” and “lows.” For example, Tolstoy (Dave Henderson) of Oakland has a POW 7 that definitely lands on the high end of the scale. I know this because the dude is damn deadly. I believe his stance is also conducive to his hitting the long ball. It’s almost like he’s a 7+ and oddly that appears to sometimes be better than an 8- if that makes any sense…

KenGriff44bMeanwhile, Oakland teammate Ernest (Mark McGwire) is an 8 but it’s a weak 8. As I said, I do believe stance factors in as well. McGwire has an awkward stance while “Hendu” has a better home run stance. So even though McGwire is an 8 and Hendu is a 7, Hendu in this game actually tends to hit more home runs. These quirks make this game extra awesome. Only veterans of Griffey will be able to suss out these subtle ticks and differences.

KenGriff45Now let’s compare two exact numbers. Here we have good old George Bell of the White Sox. He was well known for being a hacker. His scouting report read, “He’ll swing at anything.” His POW is 6 but because of his stance he’s actually one of the deadlier 6 POW ratings in the game. He’s easily a 6+ in my book.

 

KenGriff45bAnd here is Iron Horse (Don Mattingly) of the New York Yankees. He’s a 6 in the POW department just like Bell, but his 6 is a 6-. In other words, consider him a 6.0 while Bell is more of a 6.9. It matters and it does make a difference! For what it’s worth, Bell has the better “home run stance” between the two as well… there is definitely something to that!

KenGriff46Speed also has the quirks of the power rating. Broadway (Pat Kelly) of the Yankees is listed as a 7 but I swear there is a noticeable difference with his 7 and other players’ 7. On the bright side, Kelly’s 5 POW is abnormally strong. I managed to belt 30 HR with him in one season before. His stance is underrated and allows him to smash more homers than one may initially assume.

KenGriff46bWeakland (Al Martin) also has a speed of 7. But it’s a high 7. He feels significantly faster than Pat Kelly. Martin is one of my favorite hitters in Griffey. The guy is a hitting machine. While his power 7 may not be on the high end of a Dave Hendu, Martin cranks out singles and doubles like nobody’s business. Plus, his speed is a 7.9. Jack-of-all-trades, that bloody Al Martin.

KenGriff47BAT doesn’t seem to mean much. High BAT but low POW can be a bad combo. POW is so much more important. Your BAT can be low, but if you have a decent POW then you’re a dangerous hitter. Case in point, see Jojo (Mark Carreon) of the Giants. Carreon is BAT 9 and POW 4. I played a season with the G-Men before, and he sucked. That BAT 9 was pretty much useless thanks to the low POW and the awkward batting stance he has. When in doubt, remember this: POW >>> BAT.

KenGriff47bMY MAN! Here’s the man, Harlem (Kevin Maas) of the Yankees. 3 BAT? SO WHAT! That 10 POW is the difference maker. Dude hit .406 for me and crushed 75 homers. He is the game’s best home run hitter by a mile. A legend in the Griffey community. DUDE’S A BEAST. Remember, POW >>> BAT!

 

  • Defense 9 and 10’s have rocket arms. 8 is pretty good and 7 is acceptable. Around 6 is as low as you want to go. There are no low 7’s or high 8’s on defense as there appears to be with POW and speed. You can change player positions. Catcher with DEF 8, but shortstop DEF 6? In real life you obviously can’t switch them, but here you can. It’s cheap but hey, it’s your call.

These little nuances add a layer of depth to the game. It never gets old discovering something new you hadn’t seen before, despite having played it to death already! Like the old baseball saying goes, “You see something new every day at the ballpark.”

KenGriff48Speaking of something new, Gary Sheffield made Major League Baseball history today (note: this review was originally written on September 8, 2008). The 21 year veteran at age 39 hit a Grand Slam in the 2nd inning against Oakland Athletics rookie Gio Gonzalez. That historic blast marked Major League Baseball home run 250,000! Coincidentally, this occurred on the 10th year anniversary (September 8, 1998) of when Mark McGwire hit home run #62, surpassing Roger Maris’ 35+ year mark of 61 in a single season. To honor Sheffield, I fired up a game using the Marlins that same day he belted MLB home run #250,000. Batting the then 24 year old stud third in the lineup, in the 2nd inning who else but Sheffield came to bat with the bases loaded. It’s like the game knew. First pitch Grand Slam in the 2nd inning just like he did in real life! Wow. That actually freaked me out a bit.

Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball... ITS THINKING...
Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball ITS THINKING

COLOR ME BADD

16 total points or less
16 total points or less
17-20
17-20
21-23
21-23
24-26
24-26
27-29
27-29
30-33
30-32
33-35
33-35
36+
36+

I loved running through rosters, seeing which teams had the most hitters who were yellow or better. A couple clubs have five guys yellow or better, but the Chicago Cubs have six: Mark Grace (31), Ryne Sandberg (31), Sammy Sosa (33), Rick Wilkins (28), Derrick May (27) and Willie Wilson (27).

DAMN YOU, CUBS!

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Ay caramba! Let's move on...
Ay caramba! Let’s move on…
Press X to go back and get this fancy fadeout
Press X to go back and get this fancy fade-out
Now you're playing with SUPER power
Now you’re playing with SUPER power
Oooh...
Oooh…
Ahhhh
… Ahhhh

My go to Yankees lineup:

1. Queens
2. Clipper
3. Mick
4. Bambino
5. Harlem
6. Bronx
7. Thurman
8. Horse
9. Broadway

Queens may appear to have “bad” ratings, but the little bastard (Gerald Williams) can hit. His speed 9 is 9+. I bring him, Harlem and Bronx off the bench to be my starters. My 3-4-5-6-7 hitters are POWER 7 or higher!

BATTING AND HITTING

Individual game within a team game. Gotta love it
Individual game within a team game. Gotta love it

It’s easy to make contact as pitches go slow, medium or fast. They can be curved but they don’t dip. Sorry, no sliders. Purists may scoff but this means games are quick. It usually takes 12 to 15 minutes to finish a game. Griffey places more emphasis on arcade-like action than it does on simulation, but don’t mistake this for MLB JAM… it plays realistically but with heavy arcade overtones. It strikes a near-perfect balance.

A game of precision and skill
A game of precision and skill

ProTip: you can pull the ball based on when you hit the ball and on which part of the bat. A hit in the center will likely take the ball to the middle part of the field. The more you get the timing down with where you wish to place the ball, the more fun it becomes. Looking for the opposite field hit or just to move the runner from 2nd to 3rd with a right-handed batter? Then you’ll want to swing late, just as you would in real life. So while you can only miss a swing based on timing, rather than levels of depth (the ball travels in one plane but at varying speeds), the batting interface is not as simple as it may initially appear. Therein lies the beauty of this game!

PITCHING

One bar of FAT is good for about 6.25 pitches
One bar of FAT is good for about 6.25 pitches

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Leaving in a pitcher to hang and dry when he’s huffing and puffing is just asking for bad news. His pitches will be slower, harder to curve and easier to hit. Great eye for detail! The longer you leave him in there past expiration, the quicker he puffs!

Not realistic but who cares, it's fun!
Not realistic but who cares, it’s fun!

Griffey defies the laws of gravity as you can change the flight manually of a pitch once it leaves your hand. The higher his control rating, the better he’s able to curve it. It usually tricks CPU opponents into swinging and missing. Also a good way to start some heated arguments with your brother or friend!

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Straight up filthy!

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Earning a strikeout the real way is quite rare with CPU opponents. Against a bud it’s a blast mixing up the speed of your pitches to throw them off. The slow pitch seems to get people the most.

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Don't blame me for your suckage!
Don’t blame me for your suckage!

DEFENSE

Jim Edmonds would be proud
Jim Edmonds would be proud
Miss the dive and you'll never hear the end of it!
Miss the dive and you’ll never hear the end of it!
None, especially with the bases loaded in a tie...
None, especially with the bases loaded in a tie…
Be like the pros
Be like the pros
"Sparky, see if there are any free agent right fielders"
Well that worked out all right…

The best (and most rare) defensive play however is the wall leaping catch. There’s nothing like taking a home run away from the opposition. Of course, this can only be done on short walls like Yankee Stadium for example. Players cannot scale 20 foot walls. So while it may have lots of arcade qualities, it’s done so within a realistic scope.

Torii Hunter is out there somewhere smiling
Torii Hunter is out there somewhere smiling
JUST FOUL  Oh, the anger or joy!
JUST FOUL. Oh, the anger or joy!
Even better when you have fast runners on base
Even better when you have fast runners on base
I love the *CLUNK* sound it makes!
I love the *CLUNK* sound it makes!
Steve Bartman rolling over in his grave...
Steve Bartman rolling over in his grave…
One of the many silly quirks to love about this game
One of the many odd quirks I love about this game
Double play is smooth as silk
Double play is smooth as silk

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Nothing like an inning ending bang bang double play to lift team morale.

Close plays at the plate can determine the game
Close plays at the plate can determine the game
Ray Fosse having nightmares somewhere
Ray Fosse having nightmares somewhere

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Tagging out base runners is amusing as hell. The runner collapses like he was shot. I love the sound effect of the collision. Whenever and wherever I can, I like to tag them out… ;)

Talk about a photo finish. ... Sorry
Talk about a photo finish! … Sorry
"Oh quit yer bitching!"
“Oh quit yer bitching!”
About the only thing missing are the mascots!
About the only thing missing are the mascots!

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Following each game you get a box score. I wish doubles and triples were specified, but that’s just me nitpicking. It’s cool how the box score looks and reads like your local newspaper sports page. The upper right hand corner offers some entertaining random comments. One of them makes a reference to the Game Boy… something like “Star outfielder caught playing the Game Boy in-between innings!”  :)

And on that note, it's time to move on
And on that note, it’s time to move on

CELEBRATION TIME, COME ON!

The Eager Grasshopper
The Eager Grasshopper
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
The Stroll
The Stroll
The Swag
The Swag

Home run celebrations are a hoot.

COMPUTER AI… AI = ACTUAL IDIOTS??

Don't tell the computer that...
Don’t tell the computer that…

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Computer AI throws it to second base anyway, when the only play was at first. So instead of one out and a runner on second, there are NO outs and runners on second and first. Huge difference. If you play with auto fielding turned on, these are blunders you’ll endure. It’s a gameplay flaw but a small one I’m willing to overlook. Especially since it doesn’t come into play with two human players both on manual defense.

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Another example of bad AI: when the bases are loaded with less than two outs, the computer is adamant on throwing the ball home. Even when the easy play is second to first for the inning ending double play, nope, they’ll always chuck it home. Often times this leads to cheap runs and everyone called safe, as seen here. Talk about stat padding!

Tag third base then throw to first, playa!
Tag third base then throw to first, playa!
D'oh...
D’oh…

CHEAP TRICKS

This is either a free run or a free hit...
This is either a free run or a free hit…
It's imperative that you stay a step off third base
It’s imperative that you stay a step off third base
Computer AI exploitation at its best... or worst!
Computer AI exploitation at its best… or worst!
Er, imagine runners on second and third here
Er, imagine runners on second and third here
Again, staying ONE step off third base is the key here
Again, staying ONE step off third base is the key
Right as the catcher receives the ball
Right as the catcher receives the ball
Remember, there's no crying in baseball!
Remember, there’s no crying in baseball!

NEW YORK YANKEES SEASON STATS

Colossus of Clout, Sultan of Swat, the GREAT BAMBINO!
Colossus of Clout, Sultan of Swat, the Great Bambino!

In the summer of 2008, I played my 7th full 162 game season with Griffey. Once again I used the Yankees. Babe Ruth isn’t in the game, but Harlem might be just as good. One season I hit a career high 80 home runs with Harlem. My goal going into this season was to have five guys finish with at least 100 RBIs each. In addition to winning as many games as I could and setting all kinds of career highs. Let’s check out the stats!

THE PITCHERS

KenGriff115

Whitey (Jimmy Key) was my ace. He went an unprecedented 36-0! If you count the postseason, 40-0! He also had a team-high 87 strikeouts (not counting relievers) to go along with NINE shutouts. His 1.32 ERA was good for second place among starting pitchers and he logged over 310 innings.

KenGriff116

Pfeifle (Jim Abbott) was my #2 guy, Jimmy Key’s “right hand man” if you will [See you in hell -Ed.]. Abbott, as you may know, played with only one hand. He threw a no hitter on September 4, 1993 (in real life). He pitched very well for me, posting a 31-3 record with a 1.73 ERA and had 8 shutouts. In one game he pitched 18 (!) innings, the equivalent of two full games!

KenGriff117

Snake (Melido Perez) was my #3 and a damn fine one, too. 32-1 with a 1.70 ERA. His first start of the season saw him giving up 7 runs but after that he was pretty much lights out. Chalk it up to opening night jitters!

KenGriff118

Big Soho (Bob Wickman) did the unthinkable: pitching with a sub-1 (!!) ERA all season long. Thanks in no small part to him throwing two ONE HIT games. So close to the perfect game! Bob Wickman was a big guy in real life, and it’s nice to see Griffey didn’t cut any corners, or fat *rimshot*

KenGriff119

State (Scott Kamieniecki) finished 24-1 with a 1.91 ERA, proving he is indeed one of the game’s best fifth starting pitchers. With a FAT of only 5, State was able to throw just one complete game (a shutout no less). He’s good for about 6, maybe 7 innings before huffing like a you-know-what. A reliable back end of the rotation guy.

KenGriff120

My closer was Island (Jeff Johnson), not Steve Farr or Lee Smith who owns a career 478 saves! Nope, Island was my man. With a speed rating of 5 and control of 10, that meant he was a strikeout machine. He was good for 52 saves and an eye-popping 0.37 ERA! He appeared in 66 games, pitched 95 innings and struck out the competition 241 times! His FAT 3 allowed me to use him for up to 3 innings if needed. What a tremendous asset!

STARTING PITCHER SUMMARY

GS = Games Started
W = Wins
L = Losses
ERA = Earn Run Average
IP = Innings Pitched
H = Hits allowed
R = Runs allowed
K = Strikeouts
SO = Shutout
CG = Complete Game
Team AVG = Team Average

Bold stats indicate best performance in that category for the entire starting rotation.

KenGriffStats1

I’ve never gone undefeated with a starting pitcher in a single season until Whitey’s 36-0 mark. He had a remarkable year, as did Soho, who only gave up 26 runs all year long, en route to a mind-blowing 0.92 ERA! State has always been one of my favorite #5 starters, and once again he had a superb season for me. Island had 52 saves, just five short of tying real life single season saves leader Bobby Thigpen, who had 57 saves in 1990. Island boosted a 0.37 ERA and 241 strikeouts. Overall, my starting pitchers had an average of 30 wins and a 1.52 ERA.

THE HITTERS

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Queens (Gerald Williams) was my leadoff man. His 9 is a 9+. So many infield singles with that guy. He has good pop in his bat as well, evident by his 24 home runs. He had eight leadoff home runs — Rickey Henderson would be proud.

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Clipper (Bernie Williams), though not a spectacular player, is solid and steady with above average all-around play. 27 homers is a career high for him. The switch hitter is a monster from the right side. Don’t let that power 5 fool ya, and he’s got a good arm to boot!

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Mick (Paul O’Neill) is a beast. With the second highest batting average on the team (.395), a cannon of an arm and a 5+ in speed, he is the perfect player to put in that 3 spot. His power 7 is weaker than some other 7’s but he’s always good for 30-35 jacks and 100-105 RBIs each season. Just made 100 this year, sweet!

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Bambino (Danny Tartabull) had another strong season for me. My cleanup hitter did just that. He’s third on the team in batting average and second in home runs and RBIs. That power 9 is 9+ folks, believe that! Named after Babe Ruth himself, you know he’s gotta be pretty damn good. And he is!

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Harlem! ‘Nuff said. Kevin Maas is one of the best hitters in the game. Griffey has an odd glitch where the guy with the most homers at the All-Star break has his number reset. I was at 42 HR at the break and finished the second half with 33. 75 bombs. He led the team with a .406 average and a whopping 184 RBIs. Harlem is a gawd damn legend.

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Bronx (Matt Nokes) is another bench gem turned starter. That power 7 is 7+ for sure. With Bambino and Harlem snatching up all the RBIs right in front of him, it’s amazing he was still able to knock in 112 himself. In the three seasons I have played with the Yankees, Nokes is always good for 40-45 homers and 110-120 RBIs. What a weapon to have at the sixth slot!

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Thurman (Mike Stanley) has never been able to reach 100 RBIs, with Mick, Bambino, Harlem and Bronx stealing the majority of them. Finally, I did it: 100 RBIs even with Stanley! FIVE guys straight who have 100 or more — WOW! To have him hitting in the bottom third of the lineup shows you how strong the Yankees are. His 100th RBI came on the last day… what a way to cut it close!

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I’ve not been able to hit 20 home runs with Horse (Don Mattingly). Had two seasons of 19. Finally, 20! It came during the last week of the season no less. Perfect example of BAT 9 POW 6 being good but not great stats. BAT 6 POW 9 however? That’s a true difference maker. Power is so much more important than Bat. Congrats Mattingly on finally hitting the big 2-0… it’s about damn time!

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I had a career season with Broadway (Pat Kelly). He’s always been good for 20-25 home runs, so that power 5 is 5+ no doubt, but 30 home runs? The power came from out of nowhere. His speed 7 however is one of the worst speed 7’s in the game. Still, 71 RBIs to boot, what a season for him. With him hitting 30, I had SIX guys who had 30 or more home runs. Bravo, Broadway!

HITTING STATS

BA = Batting Average
HR = Home Run
RBI = Runs Batted In
MH = Number of multi-hit games
3H = Number of 3-hit games
4H = Number of 4-hit games
5H = Number of 5-hit games
MHR = Multi-Home Run games
GS = Grand Slams

Team Total = Team Total
Team AVG = Team Average
Team APG = Team Average Per Game

Not all categories are applicable to the above three.

Bold indicates a team high.

KenGriffStats

Another hi-octane season with the Yankees. I averaged 5.5 runs per game, 13.2 hits per game and 2.1 home runs per game. Five guys had 100+ RBIs. Six guys had 30+ home runs. All nine players had at least 20 home runs. Team batting average was a staggering .349, with each player averaging nearly 38 homers and 100 RBIs. What a season! I love this team, and I love this lineup.

OTHER RANDOM STATS + POSTSEASON PLAY

These are how many times the ballplayers hit back-to-back jacks:

-Queens/Clipper: 0
-Clipper/Mick: 1
-Mick/Bambino: 5
-Bambino/Harlem: 6
-Harlem/Bronx: 4
-Bronx/Thurman: 3
-Thurman/Horse: 2
-Horse/Broadway: 2
-Broadway/Queens: 1

A total of 24 times, and every possible combination sans one.

  • In Game 122 of the season, I had my one and only back-to-back-to-back moment. It came against the Rangers’ ace Mix (Kevin Brown). Mick-Bambino-Harlem. Home runs number 21, 45 and 60 respectively. Interestingly enough, that was also the game where Harlem hit 3 home runs in one game — the only time this season I’ve been able to do that. He had homers 60, 61 and 62 that day. Sorry, Roger Maris!
  • Inside the Park homers… I only had four all season long. One with Thurman, Harlem and two with Queens. Harlem and Queens each had one in the same game versus who else but Boston (their outfielders have terrible arms).
  • Longest game of the season went 20 innings. I was at home against the Orioles. Horse (Don Mattingly) sent the crowd home happy with a walk-off home run.
  • Longest win streak was 44 games… undefeated from August 25 to October 20.
  • I had two triple plays during the season: one in Oakland, the other against the White Sox.
  • Computer starting pitchers are automatically yanked after giving up 5 runs. My personal best was booting a pitcher after just SIX pitches! I’ve done 8 and 9 a bunch of times, but never six
  • Harlem had three games where he drove in 7 runs, and one game with 9! In 4 games he had 30 RBIs. Man’s a freakin’ beast. It took me 39 games to get him to 50 RBIs. Unfortunately, at the All-Star break Harlem was at 99. Ironically, first game back, first at-bat no less, solo home run for RBI #100. I think Harlem was pissed that he missed the mark prior to the break because over the next 10 games he had 20 RBIs!
  • In postseason play I went 11-1. In 12 games I scored 102 runs and had 99 hits, 32 of which left the park.(Hits / Home Runs / RBI)1. Queens:   26 / 1 / 4
    2. Clipper:   24 / 2 / 5
    3. Mick:   28 / 2 / 15
    4. Bambino:   23 / 9! / 29!
    5. Harlem:   24 / 5 / 16
    6. Bronx:   22 / 3 / 8
    7. Thurman:   30 / 5 / 11
    8. Horse:   19 / 3 / 9
    9. Broadway:   13 / 2 / 5

Combing his regular season and postseason, Harlem had 300 hits, 80 HRs and 200 RBIs!

  • As usual (with this being my third 162 game season with the Yankees), Bambino went absolutely nuts in the playoffs. It has happened three seasons in a row now, where once the calendar hits October, Bambino and Harlem switch roles. Harlem had a nice postseason, but Bambino is Mr. October. He had two 7-RBI games and cranked out an amazing 9 homers in just 12 games (3 home runs in one game). 29 RBIs in 12 games!
  • Only my World Series opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals, were able to pull one over me. Overall, I outscored my opponents 102 runs to 32… a whoppin’ 70 run differential.
  • Harlem (Kevin Maas) was the only player to hit for the cycle this season.

EVEN MORE CRAZY STATS

My first 30-hit game of the season. HUGE 9th inning!
My first 30-hit game of the season. Huge 9th inning!
Harlem went deep twice, had 5 hits and 7 RBIs!
Harlem went deep twice, had 5 hits and 7 RBIs!
Must hit eight team home runs in one game...
Must hit eight team home runs in one game…

I’ve hit six home runs in a game before, but never seven until now! Queens and Mick both went deep twice, and everyone had at least one hit and one run scored. Talk about an offensive explosion!

Harlem does a hat trick with a career high 9 RBIs!
Harlem does a hat trick with a career high 9 RBIs!
BEST.GAME.EVER!
BEST.GAME.EVER!
It was the game of my life...
It was the game of my life…

Game 2 of the ALDS. 30 runs, 40 hits. A career high for me in both categories, this game was once in a lifetime. I thought the 7th inning with 8 runs scored was huge but the very next inning I went off for 15 runs, FIFTEEN! In that record setting 8th inning I cranked out 15 hits, 12 of which came consecutively. First pitch after first pitch I nailed single after single, double after double, BANG BANG BANG. It was the most incredible moment I’ve ever experienced with a video game. 12 straight hits, 15 total hits in the inning, 15 runs! That virtually never happens. Bambino belted a Grand Slam in that inning and Bronx and Thurman went back-to-back. I was laughing like a crazed ’70s Japanese mad scientist after about the 7th straight hit. I mean, the hits just kept coming, literally! Coincidentally, my brother happened to walk by and witness pretty much all of it. He kept saying “WHAT THE!” and “HOLY SHIT” after each hit which made the whole spectacle even funnier.

Insanity
Insanity

Bronx cranked out a career high SIX hits. Eight players had FOUR or more hits, everyone had at least two RBIs and eight players scored at least THREE runs. Bambino had a career high 7 RBIs. Five guys with 5+ hits. Talk about one for the ages.

Total domination
Total domination

My Yankees finished the season an incredible 154-8, posting a winning percentage of 95%. I only lost back to back games once. Opened the season winning the first 27. Had a 33 game win streak June 10-July 16, another one July 19-August 23 and a career high 44 game win streak August 25-October 20. Boston was 64-98, 90 games back! Ridiculous.

"WEEEE AAARREE THE CHAAAAMPIONS..."
“WEEEE ARRRE THE CHAAAAMPIONS…”

THE EVER ELUSIVE PERFECT GAME

The man born with no right hand
The man born with no right hand

I’ve played well over 1,000 Griffey games and only once have I been able to throw a perfect game. Came close a few times to throwing my second — Bob Wickman had two 1-hit complete games. My one and only perfect game came back in ’96. I was so proud, thinking to myself I’d have another one down the road. Over 20 years later and nope. I might never do it again.

The man I did it with. No wait, that came out wrong
The man I did it with. Er, that came out wrong…
The unlikeliest candidate to pitch a perfect game with
The unlikeliest candidate to pitch a perfect game!

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

Iconic
Iconic

EGM gave it ratings of 6, 6, 7, 7, 7. GameFan rated it 84%. Although it received less than staggering scores, ask any serious SNES fan what the best baseball games are on the system and more likely than not people will cite the first Ken Griffey Jr. game. It’s one of those games that didn’t get a whole lot of love at the time of release from the “professional critics,” but the fans adored it from day one. It was in Nintendo Power’s Top 10 for almost a year, ranking in the top three for its first several months holding its own against the likes of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, NBA Jam and Super Metroid. The game is still beloved by many SNES fans to this day.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

So many good memories!
So many good memories!

I was at a BBQ party with my cousins on a lazy Sunday afternoon in 1996 when my dad told me and my brother those ten magical words every kid hopes to hear: “Let’s go to Toys R Us and buy that game.” I had called them earlier that morning and Griffey was marked down to $29.99. We left the party early to claim the game we had wanted for two years. My bro and I played the game like it was crack. Our friends were into it as well. I fondly remember our out-of-town friend Ben driving down to our place that same year and the three of us spending the whole night playing Griffey against one another. Ben was around 20 at the time, my brother was 15 and I was 13. We weren’t exactly little kids at that point but that night we played Griffey with the wide-eyed innocence and exuberance of six year old children. It was beautiful.

Griffey scores the game winning run 95 ALDS)
Griffey scores the winning run (’95 ALDS)

The graphics are large and arcade-like. There’s great attention to detail, from the team’s name on the uniform to the nicely replicated ballparks to even the chalk line in the batter’s box disappearing after six innings. The players look good and animate well. During the game the same theme loops which may annoy some folks but I think it’s pretty damn catchy myself. Steve Palermo’s digitized voice adds a cordial touch to the proceedings. Each game opens with an abbreviated version of the Star-Spangled Banner. During the 7th inning stretch, an abbreviated version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” plays. When a team starts a rally, various rally-like themes play to add to the atmosphere. Of course you get the choice to cut them off, but they’re nicely executed.

Its The Kid
Greatest feeling in sports is a clutch win

The gameplay is the best part. It’s largely an arcade-like experience, but with enough simulation where it’s not outlandish like a Super Baseball 2020, nor serious like a Tecmo Super Baseball — both of which are solid to very good baseball titles in their own right. But Griffey combines the perfect combination of arcade and simulation in my book. Sure, hardcore purists may be disappointed in the lack of pitches available, a lack of overly comprehensive stat-tracking and what have you, but it’s a small gripe. Ultimately, it boils down to how fun a game is, and for me, baseball games simply don’t get much more fun than this.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 10
Longevity: 10

Overall: 10
PLATINUM AWARD

Award6

Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball is arguably the best baseball game on the Super Nintendo and even possibly of all time. From the optimism of Opening Day to the dog days of summer to the Fall Classic, baseball doesn’t get any better than this!

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BONUS MATERIAL (UNCENSORED)

"Folks, what a gorgeous day it is at the ol ballpark!"
“Folks, what a gorgeous day it is at Yankee Stadium!”
*SOMEWHERE HIGH UP IN THE STANDS*
*SOMEWHERE HIGH UP IN THE STANDS*

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“Easy now Ray you know we ain’t twenty five thirty five year old no mo’!”

“Ah shaddup Claude. You know this still in don’t cha. Ol’ Ray still hip, yes he is, ol’ Ray still hip!”

“More like old Ray’s gunna need a new hip!”

“More like Claude betta SHUT THE HELL UP!

KenGriff148

“Haha, fifty years and we still goin’ at it. Look at you Ray. Old dried up, crusty, nasty-ass looking fuck!”

“That’s where you wrong. Coz I got plenty left in the ol’ tank. Today, Yankee Stadium. Tomorrow, Ray’s BOOM BOOM ROOM!

“Man you been talkin’ that up for fifty years, and it’s as real as Bigfoot, Ray!”

KenGriff149

“Nuff ’bout me, let’s talk about you.”

“Alright, wha’cha wanna talk ’bout, Ray?”

“The plan.”

“Plan? What plan Ray?!”

“The one you got brewing.”

“I ain’t brewing SHIT Ray! I ain’t got no plan!”

“Yes you do, I know it, I KNOW IT!”

KenGriff150

“Listen here Ray. You gawd damn lost your mind Ray!”

“MMMM hmm. I know you got a plan and I don’t care what you say, coz I know you better than that, you sly little motherfucka you.”

MOTHER WHAT! Ray don’t make me slap the hell outta ya now. For the last time, I ain’t got no plan Ray. We out Ray, we OUT!”

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“OH we out, yeah we OUT. That all ya gotta say?”

“Don’t talk to me Ray.”

“OUT MY ASS!”

“Quit talkin’ Ray!”

“I’m just gunna sit here, look at your old black ass and wonder… what you got up that sleeve of yours, coz I know you got something up that sleeve.”

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“You something else all right, Ray… you some hing else… and it’s NO DAMN GOOD.”

“Wait wait shut up. That Harlem guy is up. He all over the radio! They say he’s the next Babe Ruth. One more home run and he will be the new king. Whoever catches that ball I’ll kill him for the money!”

"OH SHIT RAY THE BALL IS COMING YOUR WAY, RAY!"
“OH SHIT RAY THE BALL IS COMING YOUR WAY, RAY!”
*CLUNK*
*CLUNK*

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“AW RAY! THE FUCK WRONG WIT YOU!?!”

“The fuck wrong wit me, the fuck wrong wit you!”

“You just dropped the ball that would have set us for life, RAY!”

“See now if you just told me your plan, all of this could have been avoided!”

“FUCK YOU RAY!”

Another
See you at the ballpark!

12 thoughts on “Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (SNES)”

    1. I’m not sure one can really call it a knuckleball? In the first Griffey game, there are only fast pitches (hold down), medium pitches (just press the pitch button) and slow pitches (hold up). You can curve each speed to a certain degree using the D-Pad but that’s about it. If you know something differently about a knuckleball, let me know! I assume you just mean slowest pitch possible and moving the D-Pad around?

      1. Yes, by slowing it all the way down and quickly alternating right and left on the direction pad you can make it dance. The three Knuckleballers that I know are in the game are Tim Wakefield (PIT), Charlie Hough (FLA) and Tom Candiotti (LA). Wakefield is terrible as I believe he was a rookie. I do not remember Hough’s ratings and my game no longer works. But Candiotti was my guy. His control rating was a 10 and I could make that ball do just about anything I wanted. I would torment my brother because I could throw a pitch that I could litterally curve all the way around his swing, hit the batter, and it was still a strike. Or I could throw it directly at him and by the time it got there have it all the way outside the opposite batters box.

        I loved this game.

        I also perfected what is commonly known as a “Rickey Rally”. Only I used Brett Butler. I could bunt my way on at a .750 clip, steal 2nd, steal 3rd and bunt him in with Jose Offerman.

        1. Haha nice, thanks for clarifying as well as sharing that Butler story. Man, I could never steal 3rd in all my years playing it, but I never tried too hard. I found stealing 2nd hard enough as it was. But yeah, it’s cool how Griffey has given so many different people so many memories. Speaking of baseball games, what do you think is the second best SNES baseball game? (I assume Griffey is #1 in your mind, as it is in mine). I actually just wrapped up a 162-game season with Super Bases Loaded 2, and I’ll be damned, I think that just might be my second favorite. It’s really fun and you never hear anyone talking about it. I’m working on a review of SBL2 that I hope to launch Thursday or Friday this week. Hoping to spread the word on this criminally overlooked baseball title from early 1994, lol. Tecmo Super Baseball was my second favorite SNES baseball game until I played a full season of Super Bases Loaded 2. Check it out if you have yet to try it yourself!

  1. Great stuff! I’ve been playing since 1993 and have had only one perfect game. Played a season with almost every team and I couldn’t get an American League squad under 9 losses like you did here. Neither could I get 60 plus home runs with anyone unless you vacate the catcher by running into him to hit an inside the park hr (which gets added to your home run total). Plus your pitching is insane, I’ve never gotten below a .5 era for a full season and only got a pitcher to 33-0. Right now I am trying to improve on my personal best 4 loss season with Montreal, wish me luck! Glad you enjoy the game as.much as I do.

    1. Awesome, man! Yeah, I love Griffey. It’s simply the best. I really should fire up another 162-game season at some point. Glad you enjoy the game too as well as my review of it. The game has so many interesting quirks that it continues to fascinate me even to this day, more than 23 years after its initial release. The true sign of a grade-A masterpiece :)

  2. Steve,

    If a man had the rom do you think the home run could be fixed? The glitch doesn’t show up on a Retron 5 as it dumps the rom from the cart to play the game. The HR glitch is the only thing that really annoys me.

    1. Not sure, Robert. It’s a bug that definitely bugs me as well (har har) but oh well. The game is pretty much perfect otherwise (especially when you don’t factor in the terrible AI).

  3. I have a more ridiculous season than this. My team was the cubs. I have a video with my season Stats saved on my iPad. Would love to share it. My top HR hitter (crash) didn’t have his HRs erased at the break. But I also didn’t hit 75!

    1. Nice, please share your stats when you get a chance — I’d be curious to see how you did. How many HRs did Crash (Sammy Sosa) hit? That’s cool too that the game didn’t delete your top guy’s HR count at the All Star Break. As a kid I assumed they programmed that bug because they didn’t want anyone to break Roger Maris’ then top HR mark of 61, lol.

  4. Love your review and the game itself. I found a website that let’s you play old SNES games online for free and I’ve been playing Griffey MLB more than the show. Also was wondering if you’ll do a similar review for Ken Griffey Jr’s Winning Run on SNES. It doesn’t get much love as it’s not as smooth as the original but I like how the computer would randomly choose alternate uniforms for the teams. I was bummed that Winning Run didn’t pay much detail to the ball parks like the original one did.

    1. Hey Cranky Old Baseball Fan (great name),
      I appreciate your kind words. Yes, Griffey is a special baseball video game indeed. I just played a full 162-game season this past spring… it never gets old. Honestly, I was never able to get into Winning Run as I would have hoped… and am hoping still for it to “click” with me one of these days. I will probably write a review of it at some point, but not before playing it more thoroughly first. So many games and things and not enough time, heh.

      BTW, check out my Field of Dreams article I recently published. It deals with baseball and I figure you might enjoy reading it :)

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