The Mariners are one of two franchises to have never participated in a World Series ever. They have only 4 post season appearances in the existence that began in 1977. They did not even have a winning season until 1991.
Yet along the way, they have had some of the most dynamic and famous stars in recent baseball history. Ken Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez and Ichiro Suzuki all played the bulk of their prime in the Pacific Northwest. Edgar Martinez and King Felix Hernandez have only played for the Mariners.
But the player known forever as “Mr. Mariner” was Alvin Davis. He represented the first glimmer of hope in the mid 1980’s, a hope that did not go fulfilled but he led a team filled with potential.
Davis was born in Riverside California (so was Barry Bonds for that matter). He went to Arizona State University (hey, so did Bonds!)
He was drafted by the Mariners in 1982 and by 1984, was the starting first baseman in Seattle. In his first game, he broke a scoreless tie by launching a 3 run homer off of Boston’s Dennis Eckersley. It would be the difference in Seattle’s 5-4 win. In his second game, he homered again.
Throughout the 1984 season, Davis was a consistent weapon. He represented the Mariners in the All Star Game and finished the season with 27 homers, 116 RBI, a .284 average and an OPS of .888, earning him Rookie of the Year honors.
The Mariners did not contend that year but with Davis, Mark Langston, Jim Presley, Mike Moore and Ken Phelps, they appeared to be building an exciting new team.
Davis continued to produce in 1985 and 1986. Midway through the 1986 campaign, as Danny Tartabull, Phil Bradley and Harold Reynolds emerged as solid big league players, Dick Williams was brought in to manage.
Two years removed from turning the Padres into pennant winners and with a history of turning around the Red Sox, A’s and Expos, Williams looked to make a young talented Mariners squad his next accomplishment.
The 1987 squad played in a poor American League West and even though a deal involving Danny Tartabull didn’t work out, the Mariners looked like they could win. Davis obliged with a career high .295 average and 29 homers plus 100 RBI.
They hovered within striking distance of the Twins for much of the season intil a disastrous second half of August sunk the team.
As the Mariners slogged along losing season after losing season, Davis remained a consistent producer. With Dick Williams gone for 1989 but Ken Griffey Jr. arriving, Davis had his best overall season. He added 101 walks to his arsenal, raising his OPS to a career high .920 to go along with 21 homers and getting some votes in the MVP race.
In 1991, Davis finally played for a winning team as Jim Jefebvre’s squad posted an 83-79 record. Randy Johnson was emerging as an All Star and Griffey and Edgar Martinez were evolving into a lethal 1-2 punch. Davis, however, had his worst overall season. Pete O’Brien replaced him at first base and a glut of outfielders and first basement threatened his playing time.
Alvin Davis, Mr. Mariner, left the team after 1991 and the next year was playing for the Angels. He did not fare well in Anaheim and was released by midseason. After a cameo in Japan, his playing career was over at age 31.
He has been a roving instructor for the Mariners and is active in his church and the Riverside community.
He was never a superstar and never played in October. His career was not long enough to be eligible for a Hall of Fame vote. And his legacy in Seattle has been surpassed by the likes of Johnson, Griffey, Hernandez and Ichiro.
But for fans of the Mariners in the star cap with the trident, like in this Topps Card, Alvin Davis will always be an original home grown star and the original Mr. Mariner.