In her waning days in office, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday named major league baseball all-star Ken Griffey Jr. as a new public diplomacy envoy, a job that calls for travel abroad to help polish Washington’s image.
Griffey joins Cal Ripken Jr, figure-skating champ Michelle Kwan and actress Fran Drescher as current diplomacy envoys. Rice said Griffey will take a trip to Panama in January in his new role.
“When Ken Griffey travels overseas, one of his greatest objectives will be to talk to young people and to spark their interest in America and in our culture,” Rice told a ceremony at the State Department.
She added: “I am so very proud that Ken Griffey, Jr., has stepped up to that task of helping us to share the story of America, the culture of America, and the values of America.”
Griffey, a 38-year-old outfielder, said he jumped at the chance to take up the role.
“I played in Japan for the Super Series and just watched how other countries go about their business in playing baseball,” Griffey said. “After a certain age, you pretty much set your ways. But we can reach out to young children about our culture and also about our pastime, which is baseball.”