Griffey entertains fan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2004

HOUSTON - Mark Crummley's All-Star experience was similar to many weary travelers: His plane had a one-hour layover, then was delayed another hour, then he discovered the joy of Houston's rush-hour traffic.

The difference between him and everyone else frustrated by similar circumstances: His trip was paid for by Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey picked up the tab for Crummley, his brother, their father and a friend to attend the Home Run Derby and the All-Star game as payback for Crummley returning the ball Junior hit for his 500th career home run. His reward also included autographed jerseys, bats and hats.

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Strolling through the memorabilia aisles at the FanFest, Crummley began calculating how much his new collection might be worth. One thing he didn't fathom was how much he could've made by selling Griffey's milestone ball.

The biggest disappointment for Crummley was not getting to see Griffey play. He was injured last weekend and pulled out of the derby and the game.

''My sister told me about it and I thought she was joking,'' said Crummley, a student at Southern Illinois. ''I wasn't crushed, but I was kind of bummed out.''