Ballpark Memory

Ken Griffey Jr Day at Safeco (and the greatest catch I have ever seen)

August 6, 2018

What: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners

Angels v Mariners Box Score

When: August 7, 2016

Sometimes it just about being with friends

Attending all of these games have a common theme of sharing the experience with another person – parent, son, wife or group of people.  One weekend in August of 2016 was all about friendship.  A couple of days on the lake and an afternoon at Safeco were spent with some the best people in my life.

When my friend, Norm, called me up to invite me to join him and his friends at his home on Bainbridge Island it only took me a few seconds to say yes.

Next was convincing my occasional  travel partner, Will, to come along. He, too, only took a moment to say yes.

A random perusal of the Seattle Mariners schedule showed that they not only had a game that weekend  – but it was Ken Griffey, Jr. weekend.  Plans were in motion for a historic few days.

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I had the opportunity to see a good friend, travel with one of the best people I have ever met AND see The Kid one last time.

First, Norm.

Norm and I met when I lived in Seattle. He was my wife’s boss.  Once I moved back to Tucson, we began meeting every March in Las Vegas for the first two days of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. In addition to the tournament, Norm’s other getaway is Boys Weekend at his home on Bainbridge Island. This year, I was in. I couldn’t wait.

Next, Will.

Will and I have been friends for over 10 years. Our relationship has evolved from talking about our mutual love of running to traveling for running to simply hanging out. We have journeyed from Boston to St. George (Utah) to Los Angeles for marathons. I am very fortunate to have a friend like Will. Very fortunate. Few people in this world are as kind as Will. This time, we would be simply be checking out Bainbridge together.

 

Bainbridge Island

After a quick train ride from the airport and a seafood lunch at Pike Place Market, Will and I took the ferry across the Sound to Bainbridge. This ride is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Always a beautiful site regardless of the weather. We spent a couple of days lounging at Norm’s house, dropping crab pots, eating copious amounts of smoked meats and getting killed in the Pickle Ball Tournament.  An early morning alarm on Sunday and quick cab ride to the ferry started us on our way to Downtown Seattle. Next stop – Safeco Field

You can’t talk about ferry without a picture from the Bainbridge Ferry.

Aside: On our cab ride from the house to the ferry, the driver offered us some pot. It seemed strange at first, but he explained that ever since Washington legalized marijuana people were buying it on their vacation.  Once these people realized they couldn’t take it with them on the plane they did one of two things. First, they either smoke it all in a hurry or they dispose of it by giving it to their cabbie. The cabbie who then pays it forward to his other passengers.

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View from Norm’s house

Mariners – Angels, Safeco Field

First of all, it was so crowded. As part of the Jr. Weekend, the give away was a replica throwback Griffey jersey. So many people. Fans were lined up around the block for a few hours prior to the gates opening. I have been to Mariner playoff games and never had I seen it so crowded. Admittedly, the jersey was cool.

 

Walking around the concourse, we found the new statue honoring long-time Mariner broadcaster, Dave Niehaus. Pretty darn cool.

If you are wondering why people revere him, listen to his call from Game 5 of the 1995 Playoffs.

During the pregame warmups, the traditional Seattle climate of rain rolled in causing the field’s moveable roof to come out to protect the field. Luckily, sun finally came out which allowed the roof to retract. Even though I see this type of roof at almost every Diamondback game, the Mariner “Car Port” is always cool to watch in use. (For more information on this cool contraption see my previous Mariners post).

One of the cool features of the weekend was this cool video featuring Seattle musician Macklemore.

GP can ya’ Feel Me?

Following the video, we finally had our opportunity to see the man himself. As part of honoring Seattle Black Sports History Month, Seattle icon, The Glove was the deliverer of the First Pitch. Gary Payton is a huge person in the area so it was really cool to see both him and Jr on the same field.

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As a surprise, Jr came out to catch the First Pitch from Payton. Walking to the mound to sounds of Naughty by Nature, it was 1994 all over again.

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Obligatory Photo Op

WTF! The most incredible catch I have ever seen in person.

Bases loaded. 2 outs. Deep ball to Centerfield. But never underestimate Mike Trout. Ever.

Post Script

Griffey’s children went to school at the University of Arizona in my home of Tucson.

One late night while driving from San Antonio to Tucson with my friend, Tim (another incredible person in my life), I learned that Jr’s kids lived next door to a mutual friend of ours. At that moment, Tim decided it would become his life’s mission to obtain a signed ball from Jr. The plan would be I would give him a ball to place of the front step of Jr’s house. We knew that Jr’s daughter was graduating from the UA shortly and he would be in town for sure. The house was going up for sale, so this was our one chance. ONE FINAL CHANCE.

I provided Tim with an official Rob Manfred MLB Game Ball. Here he is placing it on the door step of the Mariner Hall of Famer.

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And then we waited. And waited. And waited. No news. Our friend, Teresa, kept tabs on her neighbor in anticipation of a signed ball showing up on her door step. Graduation weekend came . . . and went. Unfortunately, nothing happened. Moving trucks arrived and Griffey’s left. It was worth a try, but Tim became very jaded by the whole process.

 

 

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