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Teammates happy for Griffey
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06/20/2004 7:35 PM ET
Teammates happy for Griffey
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Ken Griffey Jr. is mobbed by his teammates after hitting career home run No. 500. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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• Griffey launches No. 500:  56K | 350K

CINCINNATI -- Ken Griffey Jr. was obviously happy to put the circus surrounding his 500th home run behind him.

So were the rest of the Reds.

"I just really happy for him," said shortstop Barry Larkin. "There's been a lot of pressure on him, so I'm relieved for him."

"It was a relief, I know, for him to get it out of the way," added Adam Dunn.

The entire Cincinnati clubhouse was pretty much in awe of the accomplishment.

They should be.

Griffey became just the 20th player in the storied history of the game to reach the 500 home run plateau.

"The way I look at it, 10 years in the big leagues is a long time," Dunn said. "That's 50 home runs for 10 years. I can't even describe how many home runs that is. That's a lot of home runs a lot of people don't realize just how many that is, but it's a lot of home runs."

They weren't just happy to have been part of the historic moment, though. The whole group was genuinely happy to see their teammate and friend hit an amazing milestone.

"You definitely could see how much it meant to him," said Danny Graves. "I think he's acknowledged the fans a lot more this week. I saw him high-fiving some kids a few innings after he hit the home run.

"I don't care how modest or quiet or how much you try not to show your emotions, when you hit 500 home runs some emotions are going to come out."

Junior's hug with his father certainly brought plenty to both the fans in attendance and his teammates.

"To see him with his dad and his kids when they gave him the hugs, I got choked up," said first baseman Sean Casey. "He was touched. You could see it when he hugged his dad. There was a genuine appreciation for it being over and for what he had done. There are only 20 guys who have ever done that, so even just being his teammate it was a special moment. I'll never forget it."

After coming to Cincinnati after the 1999 season, Griffey has had a hard time meeting the high expectations of him and the Reds.

Injuries in 2001, 2002 and 2003 limited the center fielder to 234 games over the past three seasons. The club went a combined 60 games below .500 during that stretch after winning 85 games in 2000, Griffey's only healthy year in Cincinnati.

"There was a lot of stuff that went down," Larkin said. "But Junior's Q-rating has definitely gone up. I mean look at the All-Star vote. He's really risen in the vote. It's good because he's been so good for the game.

The last three or four years, he's had a lot of injuries. There's been lot of pain and negativity surrounding him, so to see him rebound like he is is good for him and great for the game. I'm very happy for him."

Todd Lorenz is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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