On Opening Night, 1986, the Mariners tasted some of the rare success that year would bring. Mike Moore battled Mike Witt and the Angels for 7+, then the two teams headed to extra innings before Jim Presley – one of my all-time favorite M’s – delivered a Grand Slam to win it.
That was the last time I watched the Mariners on Opening Night.
Having relocated back to Silverdale, and having made sure that my DirectTV allowed me to get Root Sports (Channel 687), I made a giant plate of my famous Chili Cheese Fries, grabbed an adult beverage and plopped down in front of my 55″ HiDef TV to enjoy the pregame and nine innings of Mariner glory.
There is, of course, something special about Opening Day. If you win, it’s hopefully a portent of things to come. If you lose, well.. it’s just one game, right?
Over the past three or four Opening days though, I was able to share a good deal of the excitement and joy of Baseball with my friend and shipmate on USS Michigan, Curt. He worked for TV in Chicago, and was usually at the game. He always had something cool happening behind the scenes, and often I would get a text of a picture of something that never made the broadcasts.
A couple of years ago, he managed to get – I don’t know how – a hard copy of the Dodgers Media guide from Vin Scully’s last season. It’s on my shelf of Baseball treasures, now more because of how it got here than anything else. He set up a Facebook page where we could share – almost privately – baseball stories that were more than how our favorite teams did. It was about how great baseball is.
Curt passed away a few days before the season started this year, after an all-too-short battle with kidney cancer. The last text I got from him was a Thumbs Up reply to a message of encouragement I sent him as he went to the hospital back in January. We still weren’t sure how serious it was.
By the end of Spring Training, Curt was gone.
It’s going to be another great year of Baseball. Records will be challenged and even broken; games will be won in the last at bat; bases will be stolen; and TV’s will broadcast games. But the airwaves won’t be touched by Curt.
Yes, Baseball Does Not Suck.
But not having a friend with whom to to enjoy it, even if he is 2000 miles away, will.
So I found this on eBay for $30 and free shipping. A 1979 Willie Horton throwback authentic.
Oh what times those were for the M’s! Terrible teams, but awesome double knit unis!
1979 was an all but forgettable 67-95 season. But the M’s finished ahead of the woeful A’s and had a few moments here and there including hosting the All-Star Game that year.
But those Unis! I still love the 1980’s set, from about 1982 through 1986, before the switch to the more traditional button downs, the horrific Circle M logo and the “S” on the cap. I always loved the Trident, not just because I was a TRIDENT Missile Fire Control guy, but because I felt like it was just a really awesome logo.
1979 was also the year Willie Horton, the great Tigers player for so many years came to Seattle and had decent but not great seasons in 79 and 80.
It was also a year before I really became aware of the M’s and the American League in general. I spent the summer of 1980 in the Seattle area, and there were opportunities to attend games that I did not take, but I did hear them on the radio for the first time and like most people, I fell in love with the way Dave Niehaus called the game. That team was even worse than the 79 Team, losing 103 games which seems all but impossible to do unless you are trying to accomplish it. Wayne Cody used to pop champagne whenever the 100 loss happened. He was probably drunk a lot in those days.
One good thing that happened to the M’s in 1979 that was a positive though, saw them draft a shortstop out of Pensacola by the name of Jim Presley. He would go on to hit the most amazing Home Run I ever saw in 1988 in Baltimore. He played six solid years, including one as an All-Star and MVP Candidate (1986) in Seattle and remains one of my all time favorites.
In the 17th Round that season they also drafted a crafty left hander named Bud Black. He would appear in just two games for Seattle in 1981, before going on to his long and famous career with the Royals, Indians and Giants as well as becoming a manager of some repute.
Even in the worst of seasons, there can be a positive thing or two!
Baseball, at the end of the day, is a business.
I get it. Believe me, I get it. I came to watch the game at the dawn of big free agent dollars, and I have long become used to the idea that players aren’t loyal to a city or an organization, and the era of the player spending his entire career with one team, one organization is now so rare as to be almost unheard of.
Still though, it hurts a lot to watch Hershel Mack “Boog” Powell cruise around Centerfield for the Mariners, making smooth as silk catches and be described by the broadcasters as “effervescent.”
I mean, he is. But seriously, this is another ex-Port A’s prospect that went away in the Zorbrist trade last season. Daniel Robertson, another highly touted A’s prospect went in that deal too. Combined with sending Addison Russell to the Cubs a while back, you have to watch these guys now and wonder what the A’s could have been this year and into the next years.
Watching Boog, Robertson and Russell play in Stockton was a joy. You just knew that all of these guys were going to make it, and someday you’d be able to say, “I was there in Stockton when…”
So yeah… it’s a business. The Mariners and Rainiers benefited in the end by getting Powell from the Rays for Logan Morrison which makes you wonder what the Rays are thinking, and he does look smooth and effervescent” in Center for the M’s.
And I was there when he played 14 wonderful games in Stockton. Then he got suspended and then he went down to Beloit.
It’s a business. Boog business.