As I began collecting baseball cards in 1978, this one stuck in my head. This interesting sounding team played in a city I had never heard of and I saw their stadium. It was either a UFO or something to squeeze an orange on.
I have no idea why I found the Mariners to be compelling as a kid. They didn’t have superstars like they eventually had with Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez or Ichiro Suzuki. Nor did they have the likable bunch of steady veterans that they had in the 1980’s like Alvin Davis, Mark Langston and Phil Bradley who jussssst couldn’t put it all together.
I certainly didn’t know about the turbulent history of baseball in Seattle. I didn’t know about the Pilots fiasco, the near move of the White Sox to Seattle nor the lawsuits that prompted the formation of the Mariners.
My dad DID tell me that the Mariners manager, Darrell Johnson, was the former manager of the Red Sox and was nicknamed Stoneface. It is amazing how he went from being so close to winning the World Series in 1975 to be fired in July 1976. He took over the Mariners and never got close to the playoffs.
And at that point, I was 6 years old living in Massachusetts. I was not yet a proud graduate of Washington State University and I had no knowledge of how beautiful that region of the country was.
Yet I was drawn to them. I loved the Trident hat. In fact I have one that I wear often to this day.
I loved the uniform and yes, I loved the dome. At the time only the Astros and the Mariners had a dome. Stade Olympique in Montreal had a hole in their roof at the time. Things like domes impressed a 6 year old version of myself.
I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Mariners and often fantasize about living in the state of Washington fulltime. Seattle remains the only current major league city to have never hosted a World Series.
I hope that pennant comes to Seattle soon. I’ve been fascinated by them since this team picture, the first one in their history.