Ghosts of the ’95 Mariners

A couple days ago I came across a post on Crosscut by Feliks Banel with the above title, talking about the division playoff game with the Angels and the ensuing ALDS, and how Griffey being with Seattle in 2009 revitalized those memories. Feliks is a communications and radio/TV specialist with a blog, I Still Love Radio. I clipped the following excerpts from his Crosscut post and got permission from him to post the resulting story here:

You had to be there. To really understand how much this city responded when the Mariners made it into the playoffs for the first time in 1995, you had to have been here to feel the palpable shift after 18 years of bad baseball.

The Mariners’ late season ascent that August and September is a fond memory for many people who, like me, don’t even consider themselves sports fans.

The business and culture around Seattle baseball — from the romance of Emil Sick’s Pacific Coast League Rainiers, to the single-season backroom shenanigans of the Pilots, to the years of anonymous struggles and threatened sales of the pre-1995 Mariners — had always been far more fascinating to me than anything happening on the field.

But all that changed, officially, on October 2, 1995 when the Mariners played the Angels in a one-game tiebreaker to decide which team would go on to the division series. A win for the home team would send the Mariners to their first post-season play in franchise history.

On that particular day, I was working for the Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) program of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. The game took place right in the middle of “The Art & Technology Symposium” that BVA was producing at Intiman Theatre. My memories of the crude “technology” on display that day may as well be in sepia toned prints — it seems like a century ago. That the game was taking place at the same time was also pretty distracting, and only a few people carried cellphones in 1995, and the cellphones were only, well, phones. I remember stepping out into the Intiman courtyard several times during the program to get updates from a now-forgotten attendee who was in touch by cellphone with someone attending the game at the Kingdome.

There are legends in many cities about how you could walk through town on a summer night in the 1930s and 1940s and not miss a word of the local baseball broadcast as radios played from each house. While taking a walk through Wallingford during game five of the Mariners-Yankees division series, my wife and I couldn’t hear any of the play-by-play (it was October in Seattle, after all, and windows were closed), but we did hear simultaneous whoops coming from houses in all directions each time the Mariners did something good. It’s one of my most vivid memories of feeling like a Seattleite, feeling really connected to the city.

Though they would ultimately lose to Cleveland in the American League championship series, the ’95 Mariners had erased years of scorn and derision, and had set the city afire.

By Feliks Banel

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