Baseball is made for memories both on the field and off. When families share a baseball memory, crying in baseball can happen.
There’s no crying in baseball.
“When do Mariners single game tickets go on sale?”, my son asked me in early 2017. “Yesterday,” I said. “Shoot,” was his reply.
In the summer of 2016, Hall-of-famer Ken Griffey Jr had his number retired by the Seattle Mariners. “The Kid” as he was affectionately known in his early day, wore #24 – Jackie Robinson’s #42 in reverse. As the first Seattle Mariner player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it was going to be a special weekend.
I raised my oldest son around sports. He developed his love of sports through me, becoming a soccer, football, baseball, basketball – heck, an all-around sports fan – because of me. I like to joke with him, however, that I failed him since he is a Seattle Seahawks fan and I am an Oakland Raiders fan. Eh, we can’t all be perfect now can we?
One sport that we share is baseball. Much like generations before us, the game of baseball unites us, as does our love of all things Seattle Mariners.
Admittedly, it wasn’t always this way for me. I was an Oakland A’s fan growing up. Hey, when you’re born in Oakland, you root for your teams, even if you no longer live there. It’s a Bay Area thing. Those early 70’s A’s teams with Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers, and the 80’s-early 90’s Bash Brothers (Mark McGwire & Jose Canseco) + one of my all-time favorites, Rickey Henderson were truly special teams to cheer for growing up.
Although I didn’t live in Oakland, I still cheered for them. There were no Arizona Diamondbacks in my time, so the A’s were it for me. Then I moved to Spokane, WA.
With the A’s in the same division as the Mariners, I could still follow “my” team, albeit with a decidedly Mariners broadcast. That’s when I was introduced to the voice of legendary Mariners broadcaster, Dave Niehaus.
I’d only heard one other voice in my lifetime with as much passion, love and knowledge of the team they broadcast as Niehaus. That was longtime Phoenix Suns broadcaster, Al McCoy. From McCoy’s “Shazam” to “Madhouse on McDowell” to “Purple Gang from Phoenix” catch-phrases, I learned what it meant to be engaged to a team simply through a voice on the radio. Dave Niehaus was the same way, but with a vocal tone unlike any other I’d ever heard.
Niehaus’ voice was calming, soothing, almost mesmerizing at times. Whether it was on the radio or television, he made even a non-Mariners fan like me tune in just to hear him call a game. Before I knew it, I was becoming less and less of an A’s fan and more and more a Mariners fan, pre-1995.
Edgar Fan Since 1995 said one sign on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. 1995, for the uninitiated, is when the Seattle Mariners played for the American League championship. All because of “The Double”.
Say “The Double” to a Mariners fan and they know you’re not referring to a drink order. Edgar’s double. Junior’s run to the plate. Pure, unadulterated magic and bliss in the Pacific Northwest region. Adults and children alike cried tears of joy. Their Mariners. Our Mariners were one step closer to playing for a World Series title.
As we all know up here, the Mariners didn’t play in the World Series. They’ve never played in a World Series. No need to make me nauseous just thinking about it. But for one brief moment, there was joy and crying in baseball here.
Since then, there have been (mini-) triumphs like in 2001 and disappointments (too many to name). We always had Edgar. Bigger stars like Griffey, Ichiro and the Big Unit (Randy Johnson) have come and gone, but we still had Edgar.
And Edgar had Seattle.
— Holli Martinez (@HolliMartinez1) August 13, 2017
Edgar Martinez, his wife Holli and their family have embraced Seattle. As the Seattle Times‘ Ryan Divish puts it, “There have been players with more talent and better numbers in baseball, but the meaning of Edgar Martinez to the Seattle Mariners isn’t easily explained.”
Yes, Seattle and Edgar Martinez are forever linked. But, Mariner fans across the region have embraced Martinez as their own. For me, there was something decidedly underdog-ish about Martinez. Perhaps it’s his Latino roots – Puerto Rican, of course. Or maybe it’s the fact that so many Mariner fans gravitated toward the high profile names like Griffey, A-Rod, Randy & Ichiro. Edgar was the model of consistency.
He never craved the attention and spotlight. He just went about his business and did his job. Those types of qualities seem to be lacking in today’s social media-driven society. For me, less Rickey Henderson and more Edgar Martinez. Nothing wrong with liking Rickey Henderson, but the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve gravitated toward that type of player. Hard-working, humble and giving.
There was no way I was going to miss this Mariners celebration. Thanks to my son, I didn’t have to worry about missing anything.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 13, 2017
Candy. I want candy.
Throughout Safeco Field, families were sharing this moment. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, children of all ages came together under a beautiful Seattle sky to celebrate a beloved Mariner legend. But, not everyone understood the hoopla. For some, only one thing mattered.
Candy. I want candy. I want candy.
The young one near me didn’t care that the #11 in a a Seattle Mariners uniform was being retired. The video of many former major leaguers sending their best wishes? Edgar Martinez walking in from center field? Martinez’ speech?
Candy. Candy. I want candy.
I remember those days. Kids can sometimes have a one-track mind. On that little one’s mind Saturday was candy.
Now, I could have been irritated that this kid was yelling in my ear, I want candy! All I could think about walking into the stadium was my favorite Mariner player was getting his just due. That’s what I wanted to be thinking about, so I had a brief moment of irritation. Yet, just as quickly as I experienced irritation, I felt joy.
I had tears of joy that I was experiencing this Edgar Martinez moment with my oldest son. He is the one whom I share my love of sports, especially my Mariner fandom. I had tears of joy that he was once like this little one in my ear. He went from a kid that wanted things his way to a young man who loves his mama and bought her tickets to see her favorite Mariner player.
I want candy.
The little one got candy because daddy made it happen.
I got to see Edgar Martinez because my son made it happen.
Baseball is a sport that is made for memories.
And, for crying.