Does anyone remember the Seattle Pilots or even back farther, the Seattle Rainiers? Before the Seattle Mariners, the Emerald City had a Triple A baseball team called the Rainiers, presumably after the beer company of the same name. In 1970, the Seattle Pilots were purchased and moved to Milwaukee to become the current Brewers. The original Milwaukee team was the Braves, who moved to Atlanta.
It was none other than the current Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig who pulled off the Pilots to Brewers deal. A lawsuit was brought against the American League for breach of contract, resulting in the Seattle Mariners being formed and playing their first game in the 1977 baseball season.
I did not attend a Pilots game, but I did attend a Mariners game in the now imploded Kingdome, which was built to be the home of the NFL Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks now have their own stadium next door, called the Qwest Field. BTW, Seahawk is another name for osprey. The Mariners new field is called Safeco Field (since July 1999), and has a retractable roof in the event of rain in the often rainy Pacific northwest (like tonight). This will be my first game at the new Safeco Field, built in the same general area as the old Kingdome, in the southern part of downtown Seattle.
The big star for the Mariners over the last several seasons is Ichiro Suzuki, from Japan. In 2001, he became the first American MLB player to enter the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. He also won the American League batting championship, and also led the league in stolen bases. He was also voted Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. He has also won ten Gold Glove Awards, and hit the first inside the park home run in All Star Game history in 2007.
The Mariners first winning season was in 1991, coinciding with Ichiro’s arrival. In 1995, they defeated the mighty New York Yankees for the American League Division Series. They have never appeared in a World Series, along with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. They are currently owned by the Nintendo Corporation.
Seattle players who have distinguished themselves, besides Ichiro are: Alvin Davis, announcer Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Dan Wilson, and Randy Johnson. They are in the Mariners Hall of Fame, but the team has not retired any uniform numbers. In 2008, Don Wakamatsu, a Japanese American from Hawaii, became the first Japanese manager in major league baseball. Over the years, their best player, besides Ichiro, was Ken Griffey, Jr., a certainty for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In a half-hearted effort to attend baseball games in stadiums west of the Mississippi, this visit to Safeco is my “re-insurance” of a visit to the old, now imploded Kingdome. Earlier this month (last week), I attended a San Diego Padres game at their new stadium, Petco Field, a replacement for Jack Murphy Stadium. Earlier this year, I went to an Arizona Diamondbacks game at Chase Field, formerly called, “The BOB,” and a Dodger-Giants game at old Dodger Stadium (though I went numerous times as a kid). Add this to my previous games at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Busch Stadium (old one) in St. Louis, Coors Field in Denver, and of course, our two Bay Area ballparks. Last year, I also visited Fenway Park in Boston and Yankee Stadium in New York for the first time.
Too bad I cannot stay to the weekend when the Giants are in town. As you can tell from the photo, they painted the Seattle Space Needle a bright orange in their honor (I don’t think so, but it sounds good). Anyway, after a quick dinner tonight at Lola, I am headed over to the game on the Sound Transit (light rail) for the grand fare of $0.75. If only I can buy something at the game at a similar price.