The Stadium Vote and the Fan Van

It was a magical season for our young family. We lived in West Seattle, 10 minutes from the Dome, and were often given free tickets through work, so we went to almost every game. My wife and I and our 2 sons would often get to the Dome early enough for batting practice, and would often stay until the players left and the parking lot was empty. Sam was 9 and Zach was 6, and they had many autographs from the players from both teams. A favorite was when Don Mattingly signed Zach’s Stand Up action figure (in the unopened package). My wife and I would sit in the nearly empty stadium, and watch as both Sam and Zach would make the rounds for autographs. It was a very relaxed time.

One night after a game towards the end of the 1995 season, I remember when Lou was being driven out to his car in a golf cart, he stopped to sign some autographs, and made the quip that it seemed there were more people waiting outside than there were in the Dome. Boy, within a few games that all changed. They started winning, and it seemed every win was in the last 2 or 3 innings!

Well, fast forward to the Stadium vote. I remember how that divided a lot of relationships! Either you were for, or against! Neighbors against neighbors! Eastern Washington versus Western Washington!

The night the stadium vote failed to pass, Sam, 9 years old, told us he wanted to write a letter to Governor Lowry. So we gave him pencil and paper, and off we sent his letter to the Governor’s office, on our new “fax machine.” He wrote how he wanted to help save baseball in Seattle.

Then it all started. We received a phone call from the Governor’s office. They wanted to know if this kid was real. Yup. Later that evening, we watched the Governor’s News Conference on TV evening news, where he read Sam’s letter, and told how it moved him to call a special session of the legislature, that we needed to save baseball in Seattle!

Then the calls began. The Seattle Times, Spokane Review, Channel 4, 5, 7, and even 13! They all wanted to know who this Sam kid was. Walking to the store on day, Sam was approached and asked, “Hey, you’re the Mariner kid aren’t you?” Twice we had TV stations come to the house just to interview us while we were watching the game on TV, at the games they’d catch up with us, they even went to Sam’s school a couple times for interviews. It’s funny looking back at the time when they interviewed Sam and his elementary class, asking their views on whether the voters should approve funding a new stadium. You could sure tell what the kids were hearing at home!

Then the season ended. It all came crashing down. It felt sooo cold outside, and the sky was just a little more gray. I noticed my lawn for the 1st time in 6 weeks, it must have been 6 inches tall. We ALL came down with the flu! No more living on adrenaline.

Then another phone call. It was the Governor’s Office. The new bill was going to be signed into law, and the Governor’s office wanted to know if they could come to Lafayette Elementary in West Seattle, where Sam went to school as a 5th grader, and have the bill signed into law, in front of all the kids. I said it was up to the school, better call them, but it was OK with us! Impromptu Assembly! Just about every politician in town, and every Mariner front office person was there. The night before, we went down to Southcenter and had “Refuse to Lose” T-Shirts made for ourselves and Governor Lowry. When the assembly started, Lowry got up in front of all the kids and explained what a law was, and what they were doing by signing it. He then led the school in a chorus of “Take me out to the Ballgame.” A heavy sigh, and back to reality.

Then round two. Vanity plates. We got plates #00001 and #00003. WOW, we wondered if we should chance getting it stolen by putting it on our car! We put the #00001 plate on our family van. It was silver with blackened windows. I mention that because as we drove around, people would look, almost getting in accidents to see who we were. I mean, plate number #1? Had to be SOMEONE! We then coined the term “The Fan Van,” and an idea was hatched.

The Fan Van. We approached the Mariners with an idea, and they liked it. We would have a van painted in Mariner colors, with big letters across the side calling it the Fan Van, all with the #0001 license plate. We planned on getting sponsors to donate the van and paint, and would drive the Mariner Moose out onto the field before the games. Pretty much everything was negotiated until at the last minute, the Mariners backed out, citing liability issues. The following year, they approached us trying to obtain the plate, but we passed. They tried the idea for themselves to a small degree with a Hummer…but it went nowhere.

Finally round number 3. It all comes together, and what a small world. In 2010, here in Phoenix at a business lunch, a group of 6 people, talking about the business we were all in, when the subject of Seattle came up. The gentleman I was sitting next to, Brian Beggs, mentioned how he too had lived in Seattle. I asked what he did in Seattle, and he mentioned he had worked for the Seattle Mariners as CFO!!!! OMG!!! You can guess what we talked about the rest of the lunch! The other people at the table just sat and listened. I recounted our family’s experience in 1995, and he told his stories. He told how he had to make the decision to cancel the games after the ceiling tiles fell, along with many other great stories. Then, I mentioned the Fan Van. He fell somewhat silent. Here he was, having flown in from California, trying to win my business, when he softly mentioned it was him that killed the idea of the Fan Van. We finished lunch, and I told him it was all in the past. I shook his hand, we shared a few emails, and that was that.

By Dave Keeler

Erik Lundegaard’s Ticket-Stub History of the ’95 Mariners

A few days ago Erik Lundegaard, who you might recognize as a long-time Seattle writer on the Mariners and many other subjects, contacted me about the ticket-stub history of the ’90s Mariners he was doing. He’s chronicled the Kingdome games he went to from 1993 to 1999. Erik explained that in 1993, “I began keeping my ticket stubs and writing on the back not just the final score but any significant events that occurred during the game. Randy Johnson strikes out 15 Royals. Jay Buhner hits for the cycle. Things like that. The impetus for this reportage–I can now admit–was to keep track of how many Ken Griffey Jr. homeruns I had seen.” 

He wound up agreeing to let me repost his memories of some of the ’95 games he went to, and they’re provided below, but you can go here to read his account of all the games he attended in 1995.

  • May 30: M’s 7, Yankees 3: Down 3-2 in the 8th, with 2 outs and a man on third, the M’s string together a walk, single, walk, single, hit-by-pitch and a single, and score five times to win it. Derek Jeter, playing in only his second game in the Majors, bats ninth for the Yankees and goes 2-3 with a walk. They’re the first two hits of his Major League career. They’re the first two runs scored of his Major League career. I still have that ticket if some Yankees fan wants to buy it. Bidding starts at $10,000. M’s: 18-13, 1 1/2 GB
  • June 28: A’s 7, M’s 5: Bobby Ayala Goatee Night: surely one of the worst promotional ideas ever. I forget what you get if you show up with a goatee, but I show up without one and get to see a loss. Randy leaves the game in the 7th with a 5-2 lead but with the bases loaded and one out. Bill Risley promptly gives up two singles to tie the game. In the next inning, Jeff Nelson gives up two HRs, including Mark McGwire’s second of the game, and the M’s lose. Ayala and his goatee never enter the game. 29-29, 5 GB
  • September 12: M’s 14, Twins 3: The M’s hit four homers; Buhner hits two of them. Were the M’s feeling loose? We were in the stands. In the bottom of the 7th, after a solo homer (by Buhner) and a 3-run homer (by Dan Wilson) put the M’s ahead 14-3, Lou sends up pinch-hitters Alex Diaz (for Vince Coleman) and Arquimedez Pozo (for Joey Cora). It’s the latter’s Major League debut. When they announce him I tell Mike and Tim, “That may be the greatest baseball name ever.” It isn’t just the grand, Greekish first name. Any two- or three-syllable name ending in “o” is a great baseball name, because they’re so easy to chant. When I was a kid in Minnesota we used to chant “Let’s go, Tony-O,” for Tony Oliva all the time. And in the late 1970s, a player named Jesus Manuel Rivera became a fan favorite because his nickname was “Bombo,” and every time he was at the plate Twins fans would chant, “Bom-bo, Bom-bo.” At the Kingdome I demonstrate. I begin chanting, “Po-zo, Po-zo, Po-zo,” and Mike and Tim join in, and people around us join in, and then our section joins in, and suddenly the entire stadium, 12,000 strong, is chanting for this kid and his Major League debut. I wouldn’t be surprised if others began their own chants in their own sections, and we all met somewhere in the middle, but the overall effect is still magical. Pozo pops out to second but we cheer him anyway as he returns to the dugout. We’re loose. It’s his only at-bat of the season. M’s: 66-62, still 6 GB.
  • September 22: M’s 10, A’s 7. Fan Appreciation Night, and the fans, 51,000 strong, suddenly fill the joint. (From this moment on, I won’t be at a game with fewer than 30,000 fans for YEARS.) But after 3 innings the M’s are down 6-0. Bel-CHER! In the bottom of the 4th, though, Junior leads off with a homer. 6-1. With two outs and a man on, Mike Blowers doubles. 6-2. Luis Sojo walks. A miracle. Dan Wilson singles to load the bases. Just when I’m thinking, “Hey, tying run at the plate,” Vince Coleman hits a ball that squeaks over the right-field wall. “Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma! It’s Grand Salami time!” Bedlam. 6-6. Oakland retakes the lead in the 7th, but in the bottom of the 8th Edgar leads off with a HR to tie it, followed by single, sacrifice bunt (by Buhner?), and walk. Two on and Sojo up. But no! Piniella pinch-hits with Alex Diaz. Is he CRAZY? Sojo’s been hot. I’m still cursing Lou when Diaz smokes one into the left field bleachers. 10-7. Fan Appreciation Night, indeed. The M’s, at 73-63, are in sole possession of first place.
  • October 17, Game 6 of the 1995 ALCS: Indians 4, M’s 0: Once again, the M’s face an elimination game. And once again, Lou goes to Randy on short rest. It turns out to be one short rest too many. The Indians get to him in the 5th on an error (by Cora) and a single. 1-0. But my chief memory is Kenny Lofton in the 8th inning. Tony Pena leads off with a double and Lofton, attempting to advance him, bunts his way on, then steals second. Pitching to Omar Vizquel, my Omar, the ball gets away from Dan Wilson. Pena scores. And when Randy’s not paying attention, Lofton scores ALL THE WAY FROM SECOND. Carlos Baerga’s homerun is the swing that finally chases Randy, but it’s Lofton’s baserunning that really did us in. In the last three innings, only one Mariner reaches base: Tino, with a walk, in the bottom of the 9th with two outs. Brings up Jay Buhner. His grounder to third ends the game, the series, the magic season. But the fans, including me, don’t want it to end. Half an hour after the game ends, we’re all still there, cheering for the M’s…who return onto the field and acknowledge the crowd with tears in their eyes. Series: 2-4, Cleveland.
  • A Game 5 Story

    The following story is reprinted from Edgar and the Hall, a website “On Edgar Martinez and a quest for the Hall of Fame” that began at the start of the year. You can find the original story here, with a couple of asides that I’ve left out of the reprinted version below:

    I was at Game 5.

    Yep, I was there. In the third deck down the right field line. It was bedlam. It was amazing. It was seminal. But, honestly, I barely remember it. It was all a blur. No. My most vivid memory of Game 5 came nearly five years later, on the morning of March 26, 2000, on a stranger’s floor in Washington D.C.

    Here’s the story.

    I moved to D.C., from Seattle, in October, 1999, after graduating from law school. I was a brand-new baby-lawyer at the Department of Justice and I didn’t know a soul. Well, I did have a friend from the fraternity house at the University of Michigan who lived there. But this was it. I was on my own for the first time. It was exciting and challenging, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss home.

    Six months after starting work, I’d become friends with some of the new lawyers who’d started at Justice around the same time. I was out drinking with a group of Justice newbies on the night of Saturday, March 25, and we all ended up at some random stranger’s apartment early Sunday morning. As people snatched up spare beds and couches, I was left with the living room floor. There was no chance I could sleep.

    So, instead, I turned on the TV. And, to my everlasting delight, ESPN Classic was airing the “Best games ever played at the Kingdome,” in anticipation of the Kingdome demolition later that morning.

    Lying on that floor, I watched the game again for the first time. Extra Innings. Randy Johnson out of the bullpen. “Black” Jack McDowell. Stupid Randy Velarde. Yankees take the lead. Joey Cora bunts and slides around Mattingly. Junior’s line drive single. Runners at the corners . . . .

    Up comes Edgar . . .

    Wow. Things were changing in Seattle. Edgar’s double led directly to the demolition of the Kingdome. Safeco Field was open. The next year, that beautiful new stadium would play host the 2001 All-Star Game, a rookie named Ichiro, and a winning streak the likes of which no one had ever seen.

    And one drunk M’s fan, lying on a stranger’s floor three-thousand miles away, felt like he was home.

    Edgar At The Bat

    Edgar at the Bat: A Tale of Salvation

    With Apologies to Ernest L. Thayer and Casey At The Bat

    The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mariner Nine that day;
    The score stood 4 to 4 as the eleventh inning began its play.
    And when Kelley scored for the Yankees, and the Unit was to blame
    A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

    A straggling few got up to wail in deep despair. The rest
    Clung to that hope that springs eternal in the human breast;
    They thought if only Joey or Junior could get a whack at that—
    We’d put up even money then with Edgar at the bat.

    So Joey preceded Edgar, as did Junior and his Rake,
    And the former was a banjo and the latter had had a break;
    So upon that stricken multitude the rally cap was the hat
    For there was a chance of runners on with Edgar coming to the bat.

    And Joey laid down a bunt single, to the wonderment of all,
    And Griffey, kept hopes alive and tore the cover off the ball;
    And when the dust had lifted, and the fans saw what had occurred,
    Hysteria reigned across the Dome, and many an eye was blurred.

    Then from sixty thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
    It rumbled through Snoqualmie Valley, it rattled in the dell;
    It knocked upon THE mountain and it recoiled upon the flat,
    For Edgar, mighty Edgar was advancing to the bat.

    There was an ease in Edgar’s manner as he stepped into his place;
    There was a pride in Edgar’s bearing and a smile on Edgar’s face.
    And when responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
    No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Edgar at the bat.

    A hundred thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
    Many thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
    Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
    Defiance gleamed in Edgar’s eye, a smile curled Edgar’s lip.

    And now the leather covered sphere came hurling through the air,
    And Edgar stood a watching it in coiled readiness there.
    Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
    “That ain’t my pitch,” said Edgar. “Strike one.” the umpire said.

    From the Dome seats black with people, went up a muffled roar,
    Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
    “Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone in the stand;
    And it’s likely they have killed him had not Sweet Lou raised his hand.

    With a smile of Christian charity Pinella’s visage shown;
    He stilled the raising tumult; he bade the game go on.
    He signaled to the umpire, and once more the spheroid flew;
    But Edgar saw, read, and swung before the umpire could say “Strike two!”

    Oh, somewhere in this favored town the sun is shining bright;
    The band is playing at Safeco, and Seattle hearts are light.
    And everywhere folks are laughing, and everywhere children shout;
    For there still is joy in Marinerville—cause mighty Edgar did NOT strike out.

    Bud Orr
    Baseball Boyz Banquet 2003

    Our story for 1995

    We were living in Leavenworth and I can remember that entire fall like it was yesterday. I think the first thing I remember was driving south to teach a seminar in the Tri-Cities and coming home in the afternoon with one of those mid-week Mariner matinees on the radio and Dave and Rick talking about Refuse to Lose. It was mid-September and they were putting the post-season tickets on sale the next day. Unfortunately, I had another another seminar to teach–this one in Wenatchee. My kids (at that time my son was 16 and my daughter 14) were in school so there was no way for them to buy tickets. My wife (at the time) hated baseball with a passion but it has always been a way for me and my kids to connect. Even today, 14 years later, my son and I e-mail about the Mariners on a daily basis. We still do games together. My daughter a little less, but it’s one of the few things we have in common and we still find the time to do at least one game each year.

    So how was I going to get tickets. We had made the trip over from Leavenworth six or seven times that summer. We had grown totally distraught early in the year when Junior broke his wrist and we had watched unbelieving as the rest of the team sucked it up and played better than they ever had. I knew that we just had to be in the stands if they went to the playoffs.

    So, I was standing in front of about 200 people in an East Wenatchee auditorium when tickets went on sale at 10:00 am. I told my audience we would take a short break while I made a phone call. I dialed and prayed. Ten minutes came and went and I was still on hold, 20 minutes and the crowd I was teaching had filed back in. I was still on hold but I had to start speaking again. So I handed my cell phone (it was huge compared to what we all use today) to someone in the first row and I told them to let me know if anyone picked up. About 10 minutes later someone did. I excused myself and told the crowd I had to take a phone call again and I was sorry, got on with the ticket agent and scored three tickets in the 2nd deck right over Junior in centerfield.

    When I got off the phone no one in the audience of 200+ could figure out why I was jumping up and down and screaming until someone said, “You just got playoff tickets? Didn’t you?” I admitted that I had and the crowd started applauding. It was beyond cool.

    Jump forward a few weeks to the night of the one game playoff against California. I wasn’t able to get tickets to that game. I was sure we would have it won long before that (because I was a total believer) but a good friend went and we sat in the pizza parlor he owned in Leavenworth (me and my kids) and watched that game. When they finally won we went nuts.

    But the next two games were two of the worst of my life. Watching the games from Yankee Stadium with my kids as we lost both of them and knowing that if you couldn’t get Jay (still my all-time favorite baseball player) to win for you in Yankee Stadium then maybe things were over. It made me hate the Yankees and that bastard Jim Leyritz more than any group of people before or since. I still hate the Yankees. Maybe the Mariners were just too tired. Maybe my kids and I would only get to use one of those precious tickets I had bought in front of 200 audience members.

    So two days later, I went to my kids schools and picked them up around noon and we made the drive to the Dome (sorry, I have always capitalized it–it was kind of shrine to me) and watched them win. OMG! It was incredible. We did Refuse to Lose. We got lost leaving the Dome that night but we didn’t care–we had won. Did I mention I had one of the worst colds of my life. So here I am driving over Snoqualmie Pass twice a day for three days and not able to take any cold medication. My kids and I talked more in those three days of traveling than we ever had before. (I guess five days if you count the Cleveland games).

    The next day my kids went to school and I went to work. Thankfully I work for myself so I could go in at 4:30 am and get my days work done and then I picked them up again at noon and we headed west. The second night was even more unbelievable than the first. When Edgar makes the Hall, it should be more about that game than about The Double. A three run homer and a grand salami. Our seats were just above where that ball (the salami) went out and we couldn’t see it go. (Remember how bad the sight lines were in the Dome looking down from the upper decks.) We had to wait for the rest of the Dome to go NUTS when the ball went out to know he had done it.

    That third night. Oh geez! I still get tears in my eyes when I think of it. Nothing makes me emotional like that game. Up and down, up and down. The whole night. Still today, I count it as one of the five best days in my life, maybe top three. I remember so much of it. And when Joey pulled off that wonderful bunt and then Griff pushed him on to third we just knew that there was no way we were going to lose. It wasn’t possible. I don’t care if Babe Ruth (or any other of the Yankee legends of the past) had come back from the dead and pitched that inning or got to bat first in the next one, we knew there was no way we could lose. If you were there when you saw Edgar come up, you knew too. There was no way for us to lose. We didn’t even have to refuse at that point. It was destiny.

    I can still see that swing in my mind. It was so sweet. That ball bounding into left field. It didn’t even look like it was hit that hard. But we knew we were tied. I was watching the ball and my son grabbed my arm and screamed that Junior was going for it. OMG! I had never, NOT EVER, seen him run that fast. Even after a fly ball in centerfield. When he scored—pandemonium.

    If you were there and as into the Mariners as we were you will understand when I say that I am sitting here in my kitchen right now, typing this, with tears streaming down my face. That was it. I could die happy. Now don’t get me wrong. I lead a GREAT life. I have remarried (to a woman who likes baseball) and I have moved to Redmond so I don’t have the Leavenworth drive to get to Safeco and my kids have grown and are two of the best people you could ever want to meet but that night was beyond special. That night stands out. It is perhaps my most vivid memory. And not just the game. The exhilarating drive home with my kids. I look back now at those five games (the three with the Yankees and the two with Cleveland) and the trips to and from the Dome and I think that’s when we truly connected. We had been close before but my son and I found a common ground that we have kept going for all these years. And it’s a memory that I can replay over and over again of the best of times with my kids. For that I am truly thankful.

    I want to mention the other two games. Well, really only one. For the life of me, I can’t remember the first game with Cleveland. I remember that Hershiser pitched for them and that we had a young kid on the mound who loaded the bases in the first and then got out of the jam but I can’t remember his name. Was it Dave Fleming? (My son would know but it’s too early to call him.) [It was Bob Wolcott.] I do remember that, of course, Cleveland won. And I remember they won the next night too. And that we were done. But you know what? If you are like me, that last night…when it was over…that was the second best night of the playoffs. Sure Joey cried in the dugout while Alex comforted him but if you were there you remember that we in the stands didn’t Refuse to Lose, we refused to leave. We screamed, cheered, applauded and just kept going until the team came out. My kids and I had a two and a half hour drive to go home after a loss but we stayed for almost an hour until they came out and we thanked them for what was perhaps the best month of baseball in the history of the game.

    I grew up in Southern Cal. I learned baseball from Vin Scully listening to Dodger games on my bedside radio after my parents had told me to go to bed. Before 1995, the best game in baseball history had been the night Gibson hit the home run off Eckersley to win the first game of the World Series in 1988. And then my boys in blue going on to win in just five games from the Mighty A’s. Well September and October of 1995 made that look like little league. It was magic. Truly magic. Thank you so much for putting this site together. It made me write this down which I have never done before.

    By DrKoob

    A Few Stories From the Aftermath of ’95

    In the aftermath of the Mariners playoff run, the Seattle Times solicited stories from people about how the ’95 team had impacted them. I noticed the stories while looking the collection of newspapers from the run that I have, and they’re also available through the Times’ archives. Here are a few of the stories people sent in:

    Romance in the stands
    Unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend had been wanting to ask me to marry him, but wanted the occasion to be very special. He was trying to decide how to pull this off when the Mariners did it for him. It happened on Oct. 8, the final game with the Yankees. It was that fabulous and magical moment when Edgar, with Griffey on base, hit that sweet line drive into the left-field corner, which scored Griffey from first to win the game. In the midst of 57,411 screaming, over-the-edge Mariner fans, Daniel turned to me, told me to take my earplugs out, and proposed to me. I am a huge Mariner fan, and he knew how special that moment was to me. I want to thank the Mariners for giving me the most exciting, magical and romantic moment of my life. – Mary Ogdon & Daniel Clark

    Angel on her shoulder
    I inherited my season tickets from my friend, Kathy Walsh, after I found her unexplainably dead on her dining room floor Memorial Day weekend. We had attended many games together, and her family gave me a set of season tickets. I attended all the rest of the games, and Kathy was sitting on my shoulder. This was my grief therapy. – Sandi Meggert

    Brightened our home
    My dad took me to my first Mariner game in 1979 when I was 10 years old. Last Christmas, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has spent the last nine months confined to the house, but we have still enjoyed watching the games on TV. I know that even while his health is deteriorating, it has been a joy to him to watch the games. Thanks for bringing a little light into our lives for the past 16 years, and especially in the past month. – Betsy Coffey

    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

    THE BEST SIX WEEKS OF MY LIFE

    “I’m sitting here in Pioneer Square, and I’m eating a Luis Sojo Burger. This is unbelievable. I think I’m going to cry. And I better take it all in, because I know this will never happen again in my lifetime.”

    For those of you who weren’t there in 1995, you will never understand what that season meant to the city of Seattle and to the people who grew up following the Mariners. Because I’m not exaggerating when I say this. That season changed everything. EVERYTHING. Everything that is good or bad about Mariners baseball all came about because of those epic six weeks in 1995. If the Mariners hadn’t made that playoff run, in the manner that they did, at the time that they did, I doubt they would even still be here today.

    My backstory as a Mariner fan is a little bit more personal than most. You see, I wasn’t one of those “The New M’s!” fans who jumped on the bandwagon when Ken Griffey Jr. showed up in 1989. Nor was I was one of the “Refuse to Lose” fans who suddenly showed up in 1995. No way, sir. I was a diehard. My brother and I were Junior Mariners going all the way back to 1981.

    I was 7 years old in 1981. And that was the first summer that my parents signed me up to be a “Junior Mariner.” Have you ever heard of the Junior Mariner program? Of course you haven’t. The Mariners only had about 7,000 fans a game back then. They were the most ridiculous franchise on the face of the Earth. But my mom signed me up to be a Junior Mariner in 1981, which meant I got a package in the mail containing a crappy plastic batting helmet, a 99 cent batting glove, and free tickets to 8 games during the 1981 season.

    Oh, and they weren’t the good games, mind you.

    No way.

    The Junior Mariner (aka free) games were the ones against the A’s, the Rangers, the Indians, and the Twins. Good lord. Did you ever watch a game between the 1981 Mariners and the 1981 Twins? Of course you didn’t, no one did. I swear, they had so few fans in the stands those nights that they probably would have let me pitch.

    So anyway, that’s my backstory. I grew up as a Junior Mariner, my family attended between 20-30 games in the Kingdome every year of the 80’s, and I grew up learning to love a team that in no way was ever going to amount to anything. Seriously, do you know what the highlight of my childhood was as a Mariners fan? The fact that one time we scored 7 runs in an inning against the Yankees. I had never seen this before. Seven runs in an inning? By the Mariners? This feat boggled my mind.

    Remember, Al Cowens was considered our “cleanup” hitter back then. As an 80’s Mariner fan, you learned not to expect much.

    Through it all– good and bad– I was there in the Kingdome for everything. I sat behind the stupid plexiglass in left field. I fell in love with players like Todd Cruz. I thought Mickey Brantley was going to end up in the Hall of Fame. I convinced myself that you could field a contender with players like Greg “Pee Wee” Briley. Heck, I still say that 1989-90 Erik Hanson was one of the best pitchers of all time.

    Year in and year out, I was there, and I loved my Mariners. I followed them with a passion. I was so passionate about them, in fact, that after a particularly frustrating loss in 1989– followed by me smashing a bat into a wall– my mom suggested I might want to attend some sort of anger counseling class. She said my life depended far too much on if the Mariners won or lost that night. And do you know what? She was right. I literally had days of my life where I was pissed off just because Mike Schooler blew a save in the 9th the night before. The Mariners were all I ever thought about when I was a teenager.

    As you can guess, I had an unhappy childhood.
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    A Non-Fan’s Memory

    I am not a sports fan, not of any sport, not in any way. I suppose 1995 made me a fair-weather fan of Mariner’s baseball, though. My fondest memory of that fall was being in the Fred Meyer’s store in Lynnwood during one of the playoff games, and instead of the normal Muzak on their PA system, they had placed an open mike next to a radio and the entire store boomed with the Mariner’s announcer’s voice. It was a surreal experience, in that one felt very connected to everyone else in the store, connected by the common experience we were sharing.

    By Mark L. Norton

    Bad Planning, but in the End a Good Time…

    My wife and I were on an anniversary cruise to the Bahamas during the Yankee series, due to travel on the water we were only able to catch game two and game five on the TV. We were a very small majority on this boat. Other than me, my wife, her cousin from Minnesota (converted for the trip from a Twins fan) and a family of 5 from Walla Walla, the rest of the cruisers were Yankee fans.

    When the Yankees went ahead in the top of the inning, I got very mad and left our room for the fantail of the ship. At the bar a Yankee fan commented that the M’s had two runners on and Edgar coming up. I ran into the inside bar and joined my little band of M’s fans in front of the TV. When Edgar lined the ball down the left field line I turned to the gang and said, “At least we’re tied again.” When I looked again, Junior was rounding third and I knew we had won.

    Unfortunately I did not get a chance to hear Dave Niehaus do the call live (National TV), but every time I hear it now I get goosebumps…

    (To make matters worse for me, I had a chance to go to the Angels playoff game (co-worker had seats 4 rows behind homeplate), but since I left on my vacation the next day, my boss was a little unwilling to let me go.  To add insult to injury, radio reception in our building sucked.  Once again I never got to hear a classic M’s call (Everybody Scores!!!!!).

    By Grant Kenn