The Top 10 Moments in Seattle Mariners' History
It's been nearly 33 years since the Seattle Mariners played their inaugural season. A lot of good times and a lot of hard times have come since then.
From the great moments like father and son hitting back to back home runs, to the bad ones, such as Bobby Ayala's entire career.
So this is my debut article here on Bleacher Report, and I figured what better way to start off than by counting down the top 10 moments in Seattle baseball history.
These are, of course, based on my opinion formed on years of being a fan, and the research I did leading up to writing. I look forward to your feedback. Enjoy.
No. 10: Baseball Returns to Seattle
Back in 1969, Seattle got their first MLB franchise, the Seattle Pilots. However, after just a single season in the great Northwest, they pulled a Kaiser Soze and, poof, they were gone.
The city of Seattle, King County, and the state of Washington sued the American League for breach of contract in 1970, and this eventually led to the creation of the expansion Seattle Mariners.
On April 6, 1977, baseball returned to the Emerald City. Led by starting pitcher Diego Segui(who had been on the 1969 Seattle Pilots), the Mariners took on the California Angels in their debut game.
They were blanked 7-0, however, baseball was back in the Northwest, and it appeared back to stay.
No. 9: Mike Cameron Blasts Four Home Runs
The Mariners have had some great power hitters over the years. Ken Griffey, Jr., was perhaps the greatest power hitter of the era. Jay Buhner had three consecutive years of at least 40 home runs. Edgar Martinez was the best pure hitter in baseball and was a lock for 25-30 home runs a season.
But on May 2, 2002, Mike Cameron did something none of those great players had ever done. Against the Chicago White Sox, he launched four home runs in a single game, tying the major league record.
I remember watching this game, and, when he hit his third long ball of the game in just the third inning, I just knew he was not done yet. I was right.
When Jim Parque let loose with that 2-1 pitch in the fifth inning, and Cameron deposited it 412 feet over the center field fence, it may have been the most exciting regular season home run I have ever seen.
There really is nothing that compares to the excitement of witnessing history with your own eyes.
No. 8: The Kid Comes Home
If you grew up in the Northwest in the '90s, you had a favorite baseball player. You tried to copy his batting stance in your little league games, you wore your hat backwards while you played catch, and everybody fought over who got to wear No. 24.
Of course, I’m talking about Ken Griffey, Jr., and, personally speaking, there was not a sadder day in my life of being a baseball fan than the day he became a Cincinnati Red.
Fast forward nine years. The Kid who once ran like a gazelle through the outfield and made plays that only someone from Planet Krypton could make is an aging free agent with bad knees. His career is winding down, and there is only one place that he can end his career. Seattle.
I was 10 years old again the day Griffey made his return the Seattle lineup, and I cannot begin to explain the noises that came out of my face when he hit a home run that very same game.
Sure, he wasn't the same player he was when he left. That was not the point. The Kid had come home. And he was having fun again.
No. 7: Chris Bosio No-No's the Red Sox
I was only seven years old when Chris Bosio threw his no-hitter, so obviously my own personal memories of this game are few and far between.
This was the second no hitter in Seattle Mariners' history (I'll get to the first one a bit later in the countdown) and also, up to this point, the last.
What people remember most about this game is not the performance of Bosio. It's the final out.
Ernest Riles comes to the plate for the Boston Red Sox, he slaps a chopper up the middle. Riles has speed. It looks like it's over, with two out in the ninth on a high chopper up the middle. It's over.
All of a sudden here comes Omar Vizquel, flying through air, and he grabs it with his bare hand and fires it to first. GAME OVER!
Like I said, I was only seven when this game was played, but I have seen that play a thousand times since.
I still can't believe he bare handed that ball. Big ones. Omar had them.
No. 6: Ichiro Becomes the Single-Season Hit King
2004 was not a fun season to be a Mariners fan. For the first time since 1999, the Mariners did not contend for a playoff spot. In fact, they finished last. Dead last.
However, late in the season, some excitement finally came into the Seattle Mariners' season.
Ichiro was making a run at history, chasing a record that had stood for 84 years. He was going after George Sisler's all-time hit record.
On Oct. 1, 2002, he would catch Sisler and cement his place in baseball history.
In the first inning, Ichiro bounced a chopper over third baseman Hank Blalock for his 257th hit of the season, tying Sisler's mark.
In the third inning, he would make the record his own. On a 3-2 pitch Ichiro lined a shot back up the middle to become the single-season hit king.
That was the last significant thing to happen in Seattle baseball in October. Hopefully, I'm not saying the same thing next year.
No. 5: Ken Griffey, Jr., Homers in Eight Straight
There are some records that people forget about. This is one of those records, and I don't really understand why, because I find this to be one of the most impressive feats in the history of the game.
In 1993, Griffey went off like only two other people in the history if the game had done. It started on July 20 against the Yankees and would end eight days later. In those eight, The Kid had hit eight home runs, tying a record held by Dale Long and Don Mattingly.
For some reason, this streak is often overlooked, maybe because he isn't the only person to do it. I don't know.
However in my mind, it's one of the most impressive feats of power in the history of the game, and that's why I put it at No. 5.
No. 4: Randy Johnson Throws First No-Hitter in Mariners' History
In 1990, Randy Johnson was full of potential. He threw hard, and he scared the crap out of hitters.
Perhaps the scariest thing about him back then was the fact that you never really knew where the ball was going to go. That can be an unsettling thought when you're stepping into the box against a giant who throws 100 miles per hour.
Randy was an all-star that year, winning 14 games and striking out 194. He also led the league in walks.
I don't believe that there was another game that he pitched that year that displayed both his dominant stuff and his wild tendencies than his no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers.
In that game, he struck out eight, and he also walked six. This was the first no-hitter in Mariners' history and, at that point, perhaps the greatest moment for the struggling franchise.
No. 3: 2001 Season
What a year to be a Mariners fan. To this day they are the single greatest regular season team I have ever seen——and also the biggest playoff disappointment.
One-hundred-and-sixteen wins, think about that for a minute——116...wow! They dominated. Guys had career years, bench players stepped up and became heroes, all the stars were aligning. This was the year. A championship was coming to Seattle. Then, it was not to be.
Regardless of the disappointment that was the playoffs, I still look back on the 2001 season with fond memories. Crushing the Rangers and the greedy Alex Rodriguez. Seeing the The Brett Boone bat flip 37 times. And of course a Japanese import who took baseball by storm.
2001 was Ichiro's rookie season. And what a season it was indeed. A .350 batting average, 242 hits, 56 stolen bases, and playing lights out right field. Ichiro would go on to win both the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in his first year playing in America.
2001 was a magical season in Seattle. The people came together to support the team. Everybody who went to Safeco Field that year felt like they were part of team, and we all knew something special was happening.
No. 2: Game 163
1995. Oh, what a season. I was 9 years old and just old enough to really pay attention and remember what was going on. And it sure was something to remember.
When 1995 rolled around, the Mariners had just one winning season to their credit and zero playoff appearances. There was talk of moving them to Florida. They would have to pull off something amazing to save baseball in Seattle.
The California Angels led the West by as many as 13 games that season. It looked bleak for the Seattle Mariners. Then, something happened. The Mariners started winning, and they didn't stop.
After 162 games, they were tied with the Angels for first place. That meant one more game. Game 163.
The Mariners had their ace on the hill in Randy Johnson, and, boy, did he ever pitch like an ace. He went the full nine innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 12.
The batting hero of game 163? Luis Sojo. Yes, that Luis Sojo. In the seventh inning, Sojo doubled, scoring three runs, and he himself came all the way around to score on a throwing error. My God.
The Mariners are going to win this game...The Mariners are going to the playoffs. But, do they have anything left?
No. 1: 1995 ALDS
You bet your ass they had something left.
The Seattle Mariners had just completed one of the single greatest comebacks in the history of sports to make the playoffs for the first time. Baseball in October was a brand new feeling in the Northwest, and people were excited.
The Mariners traveled to New York for their first taste of the playoffs. Griffey's two home runs were not enough to carry them in Game One, as New York won an offensive battle 9-6.
Game Two was a legendary 15-inning battle that saw another Griffey home run, but ended when Jim Leyritz hit a game-winning two run blast.
The Mariners were down 0-2 heading back to Seattle. Again, things looked bleak.
Had that amazing run to tie the Angels taken everything out of the tank? Were the Yankees just better? All of these questions lingered as Game Three approached.
Randy Johnson took the hill in the Kingdome with one job. Get Seattle to Game Four. The Big Unit gave them seven strong, striking out 10 along the way and left with the lead.
It got a little tense when Bill Risley came in and gave up two solo home runs. However, Norm Charlton came in and shut them down for an inning and a third to take the Mariners to Game Four.
Game Four was an absolute slug fest. With the game tied 6-6 in the eighth inning, Edgar Martinez came to the plate against John Wettlend with the bases loaded.
He untied the game in a hurry with a huge grand slam home run, and all of a sudden it was 10-6. The Mariners still had that magic left.
Charlton once again closed it out, although this time he wasn't as lights out, as the Yankees scratched across two more runs before the final out was recorded.
The Mariners had forced a Game Five. And what a game it would be.
The Mariners turned to Andy Benes in Game Five, the most important game in Mariners' history. Again, an epic game would take place.
With the game tied 4-4 in the ninth inning, Lou Pinella would turn to Randy Johnson out of the bullpen.
In the 11th inning with Johnson on the hill, the Yankees took the lead. To this day when I watch that game, I feel all the air suck out of me when Randy Velarde slaps that base hit to make the score 5-4. Could this be the end?
We got one more at bat. Joey Cora leads it off with an amazing bunt single, sliding into first base to avoid the tag. Life, we still have it.
Next up is Griffey, who already hit his fifth home run of the series earlier in the game. He rips a shot up the middle for a base hit. Life, we still have it.
Up next is Edgar Martinez, and. to this day, this ranks as the greatest moment of my life as a baseball fan.
He rips a shot down the line for a double! Cora scores to tie it! Griffey is coming around all the way from first, his feet are not even touching the ground, the Kid is flying, HE IS FLYING! He slides into home! SAFE! THE MARINERS WIN!
I will never forget the 1995 season. It was when I truly fell in love with baseball. The iconic image of Griffey's smiling face popping out from under the dog pile, Cora's slide into first, these are images I will take with me for the rest of my life. That is why this one is No. 1.