Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Last Pitch Thrown in Oakland Makes the Strike Official Griffey Slams Athletics before Walkout Shuts Down Season

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Last Pitch Thrown in Oakland Makes the Strike Official Griffey Slams Athletics before Walkout Shuts Down Season

Article excerpt

The final pitch thrown Thursday night at the Oakland Coliseum was a strike. Then the lights went out and the regular season stopped in its tracks.

Pennant races and record chases were put on hold. No one knows for how long. A week? A month? Two months?

There won't be any more Ken Griffey Jr. home runs, Randy Johnson strikeouts or Seattle Mariners home games on the road.

As promised three weeks ago, the major-league players walked as one Thursday night, shutting down an industry that generates billions of dollars every year and pays millions to talented athletes.

Catcher Dan Wilson, the Mariners' player representative, telephoned the union office in New York and was told to "have the players pack their bags and go home."

Before walking, Griffey trotted one last time.

Junior's 40th homer of the season, a grand slam in the second inning, capped a six-run rally off Ron Darling, and the Mariners cruised to an 8-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics before 26,808 in the final game to end before the strike became official.

Johnson struck out 15, raising his season total to 204, and won his 13th game. But it didn't seem important because the Mariners don't know if this was their final hurrah.

"It's really a shame there is going to be a strike," Johnson said. "Especially the way this team is playing. Hopefully, it'll be a short one and we can resume playing."

If the regular season resumes, the Texas Rangers will be in first place in the American League West, one game ahead of the A's and two in front of the Mariners. Seattle has have won a season-high six in a row and gained five games on the division leaders.

"We've put ourselves in a good position, and hopefully there will be a quick settlement," manager Lou Piniella said.

The scene at the Coliseum late Thursday afternoon resembled a season opener or the regular-season finale more than a mid-August clash between pennant contenders.

Early-arriving fans stood behind both dugouts during pregame workouts, asking for autographs. A majority of the fans, mostly youngsters, struck out. That seemed appropriate for this night.

Every television station in the Bay Area, and most of those from Seattle, were grabbing at players. …

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