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CNN Today

Cincinnati Welcomes Ken Griffey Jr. on Opening Day

Aired April 3, 2000 - 2:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Children are playing hooky from school today. Some moms and dads are away from the office. The hot-dogs are on the grill. Must be opening day for Major League Baseball.

CNN's Gary Tuchman can confirm that. He's at Synergy Field in Cincinnati where the Reds and Brewers are playing ball again -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Lou, and the Ken Griffey Jr. era began here in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. The son of former player Ken Griffey Sr., who is now a Reds bench coach, was introduced to the home audience 90 minutes ago for the very first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Jr. was just traded two months ago from the Seattle Mariners. Now due to league rules, we can't show you the highlights of the game, because it's going on as we speak. But allow me to give you a very, very brief play by play.

At 1:06 Eastern Time, he ran out to his centerfield position for the very first time, tipped his hat before the 56,000 screaming fans. 1:13 Eastern Time, his first chance in the outfield, caught a fly ball against the fence at the 404-foot mark. And at 1:19 Eastern Time, what everyone here has been waiting for. His first at-bat. First inning, man on second, nobody out -- clutch situation. He comes up at bat. A 1-2 pitch, and he pops up to third base. Rather anti- climatic.

His next time up, he grounded out to second pass. But he'll have lots of at-bats and lots of hits, and the fans here are very ecstatic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hometown kid coming home, and you just look around and see all the excitement. It's just going to be a great day and great year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's awesome: baseball, Cincinnati. It's awesome. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a hometown boy. I mean, it's got to be really special, especially for his parents, and you know, the neighboring people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and all the family goes. It's got to be really special.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got the best player in baseball coming to a small market team like Cincinnati. New York and all them other teams thought they'd get him, but that's not going to happen now. And it's a big step for baseball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got Ken Griffey coming home. You know, he made some concessions in his earnings. I think that makes it real special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Jr. wore No. 24 while he was a Seattle Mariner, but that was the number Tony Perez wore while he was a Cincinnati Red, a great player who played for this franchise. So Jr. has decided to take another number, No. 30, the number his dad wore when he was a member of the "Big Red Machine" in the '70s and in the 1980s.

By the way, right now in the fourth inning, 3-3 Brewers and the Reds. They're playing in the rain. Not a great day for opening day, but the people inside are having a good time, because they're watching baseball history.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN live, in Cincinnati.

WATERS: Hey, any day's a great day for opening day of baseball.

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