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Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

The most memorable moments from 25 years at T-Mobile Park

By meerna Jul14,2024
The most memorable moments from 25 years at T-Mobile Park

The dispute over funding for the stadium continued for years, but the dream of a new outdoor stadium in Seattle finally became a reality on March 8, 1997, when Ken Griffey Jr. flew in from spring training in Arizona and set foot on the construction site of the future Mariners stadium for the first time.

Shovel in hand, Griffey walked onto the construction site for the new stadium before a crowd of about 8,000 on a cool, windy day in Seattle.

“Today we begin a summit that will last the rest of our lives,” said Senator Slade Gorton.

Ken Griffey Jr. drops the bat and watches the last home run he will ever hit at the Kingdome float into the stands. His first in the last game—the first inning. The Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 5–2 in their last game at the venue.

The stadium opened on July 15, 1999, at a cost of $517 million and remains one of Major League Baseball’s premier facilities. Here are the 10 best moments from the Mariners’ 25 years at T-Mobile Park:

10. “Opening the Safe” (July 15, 1999)

“Like Seattle, Safeco Field is subtle, not the first or best of a new generation of boutique baseball stadiums, but a unique place of sights and sounds where the ability to enjoy can overcome life’s misfortunes, including the Mariners bullpen.” —Blaine Newnham, The Seattle Times

Dave Niehuas threw out the ceremonial first pitch and Jamie Moyer threw out the first pitch of the game as the Mariners hosted the San Diego Padres in the opener at then-Safeco Field.

It was the first outdoor MLB game played in Seattle since the Pilots hosted the Oakland A’s at Sicks Stadium on October 2, 1969.

The retractable roof remained open, and the crowd of 44,607 was treated to Moyer’s gem (eight innings, one run, nine strikeouts), only to watch in pain as Jose Mesa gave up four bases in the ninth inning to lose the game to the Mariners, 3-2.

9. Iwakuma’s No-Hitter (August 12, 2015)

“In the long run, it may not mean anything more lasting than the dampness of a Gatorade shower. But for a ballclub yearning for hope amid the gloom, Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter Wednesday deserves to be savored. … The 25,661 spectators at Safeco Field stood and roared. The team poured out of the dugout, Felix Hernandez donned a Kuma Bear hat and consumed Iwakuma in a human scrum.” —Larry Stone, The Seattle Times

Hisashi Iwakuma threw the fifth no-hitter in Mariners history in a 3-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, recording seven strikeouts and three walks on 116 pitches.

In a difficult and injury-plagued season, the 34-year-old Iwakuma became only the second Japanese pitcher to throw a no-hitter in MLB after Hideo Nomo in 2001.

“When I was young, when I signed my first contract, I said to myself, ‘One day it would be cool to throw a no-hitter,’” Iwakuma said. “Today I’m very happy that I accomplished that, but it was just taking one hitter at a time that made it happen.”

The most underrated pitcher in Mariners history? Among pitchers with 100 career starts for the Mariners, Iwakuma is tied with Felix Hernandez, Randy Johnson and James Paxton for the best ERA (3.42) in franchise history. Iwakuma’s 1.14 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) ranks second behind Logan Gilbert (1.09).

8. Guillen’s Guile (October 6, 2000)

“There’s a bunt down the first base line… The Mariners are headed to the American League Championship! Beautiful bunt by Carlos Guillen. The Mariners sweep the Chicago White Sox! Oh my God! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”Dave Niehaus on the M show

In his first AL Division Series appearance, rookie Carlos Guillen was called upon to enter the field as a pinch hitter with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the score 1-1 and the winning run on third base.

Stan Javier hit a sacrifice bunt to advance to third base to Rickey Henderson, who was the backup runner after John Olerud started the ninth inning with a hard hit that hit White Sox reliever Kelly Wunsch in the chest.

Manager Lou Piniella called for another bunt when Guillen was called for a pinch hit. Guillen, instead, took a huge hack on the first pitch he saw from White Sox closer Keith Foulke — and missed.

In the second, Guillen sent a powerful bunt single past diving first baseman Frank Thomas, and Henderson easily scored, ending a three-game winning streak for the Mariners over the White Sox, who led the AL with 95 wins during the regular season.

“This park has been open for a year and a half,” Mariners right fielder Jay Buhner said. “This is christening it. We have to build a tradition here.”

7. Junior’s Old Religion (June 19, 2009)

“Fans are hoping to catch some old religion, kid, as Junior steps up to the plate. Here’s a stretch and a throw to Junior on the way. Swing and fly ball deep into right-center field. This kid… Gonna fly! Old religion lives! Junior’s got it! Two-run home run and it’s tied 3-3. Oh boy, oh boy!”Dave Niehaus on the M show

Called upon to change bases with a runner on third base and two outs in the eighth inning, Ken Griffey Jr. hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw from Diamondbacks reliever Tony Pena to try to make it 3-3.

It was the 618th home run of the 39-year-old Griffey’s career. He was greeted by teammates in the dugout, then returned to the top step to raise his helmet and receive the signal for the game to end from the crowd of 27,319.

A few batters later, Rob Johnson’s RBI gave the Mariners the lead for what would eventually be a 4-3 victory.

6. All-Star Game 2001 (July 10, 2001)

“The spirits at the All-Star Game were so high that the packed Safeco Field crowd even shouted for Alex Rodriguez.”Bob Finnigan, The Seattle Times

All-Star Game at Safeco Field, Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Seattle was the epicenter of baseball in the summer of 2001, when the Mariners had 116 wins and the MLB All-Star Game was held at Safeco Field.

Eight Mariners players made the AL All-Star team — with four starting — and Lou Piniella was part of the AL coaching staff, giving the game a distinctly Seattle feel.

Ichiro had the first hit of the game off Randy Johnson, getting ahead of the former Mariners ace at first base on an infield single. Ichiro immediately stole second base.

Freddy Garcia, in his first All-Star Game, threw a 1-2-3 pitch in the third inning and picked up the win when Cal Ripken hit a home run in the bottom of the third inning, giving the AL the lead for good in an eventual 4-1 victory over the NL.

Ripken, 40, was named the game’s MVP on his farewell tour.

At one point, Bret Boone, Mike Cameron, John Olerud and Edgar Martinez had 4-5-6-7 records in the AL lineup, and the Mariners’ Kazuhiro Sasaki pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win.

5. Derby HR Julio (July 10, 2023)

“For about 10 glorious minutes, Rodriguez dominated T-Mobile Park like few others have. If last year’s breakthrough showing at Dodger Stadium was epic, what he did in the first round Monday requires a new adjective for an athlete rising to the occasion.”Larry Stone, The Seattle Times

Julio Rodriguez didn’t win the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby. It didn’t matter.

J-Rod rocked the home crowd with 41 home runs in the first round against the Mets’ Pete Alonso, a record for any round in the Derby, and his name was chanted by the crowd of 46,952.

“The whole crowd was into it,” Rodriguez said. “My whole goal, when I got on the field, was to put on a show for the crowd. Just give them something they liked. I hope they liked my performance out there.”

Rodriguez was built for the Home Run Derby, and he showed that as a rookie in 2022, when he hit 81 homeruns at Dodger Stadium.

4. The Hit King (October 1, 2004)

“As if the volcano erupting nearby wasn’t enough, or the moon peeking out briefly from behind a gap in the right-field stands, there was Ichiro. By rising to the occasion and making it his one and only event, Ichiro made the Mariners’ faithful forget about the Mariners’ forgotten season—with an all-time record. Not just any record, but one of the oldest and, if overlooked, cleanest in baseball.”Bob Finnigan, The Seattle Times

George Sisler’s daughter watched from the front row as Ichiro hit a third-inning fly ball to center field from the right side of the field against Rangers pitcher Ryan Drese, earning his 258th hit of the season, breaking Sisler’s 84-year-old MLB record.

“I felt such relief, like something had been lifted off my shoulders,” Ichiro said. “The fact that the fans and the team were involved made it very exciting for me, a special moment, the highlight of my career.”

He finished the 2004 season with 262 hits. No one has come close to that total for two decades.

3. Raleigh ends drought (September 30, 2022)

“Deep shot to right field… down the line… the Mariners win this game 2-1. A dream come true! They’re in the playoffs. The drought is over! Cal Raleigh! Wow! HEY NOW, HEY NOW, HEY NOW!”Dave Sims on M.

Cal Raleigh’s success has been a theme for the Mariners in recent seasons, but it will be hard for him to top the game-winning home run he hit off Oakland’s Domingo Acevedo to secure the team’s first playoff berth in 21 years.

It was a majestic shot fired out of the windows of the Hit It Here Cafe in right field, and Raleigh’s reaction as he passed second base — hands on head in disbelief — is one of the most iconic images in club history.

“The moment I knew it was fair, I just looked at the bench and everybody was jumping up and down,” Raleigh said. “It’s not really a pressure moment. We’re having fun and playing baseball. That’s the way to look at it.”

2. Tasty toast (September 19, 2001)

“The Mariners gave us six months of joy and one of the greatest baseball games ever played. For true baseball fans, for Seattle, that’s something to savor and celebrate, even if it’s better now that you don’t.”Blaine Newnham, The Seattle Times

Eight days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Mariners won their third American League West title, defeating the Angels 5-0, then held a respectful and reflective on-field celebration.

Players knelt in the infield for a moment of silence. Mark McLemore waved an American flag on the mound, prompting a flag parade around the field, and Lou Piniella removed his cap before a crowd of 45,459.

“It was the pinnacle of my career, definitely my pinnacle of baseball,” McLemore said. “And it was the right thing to do. After what our country has been through, after what a lot of our people have been through, it was tasteful and respectful.”

Two weeks later, back home, the Mariners picked up a record 116th victory, defeating the Rangers 1-0 in the penultimate game of the regular season.

1. Perfection (August 15, 2012)

“One strikeout away from baseball history. Hernandez looks in. He spins up and throws…third strike called! Felix Hernandez throws his hands in the air! Felix just threw the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history!”Rick Rizzs on M

Felix Hernandez froze Sean Rodriguez with a devastating changeup for a third strike, then spun around on the mound in a frozen moment — his right leg lifting and both arms reaching up. (That would make for a perfect statue outside T-Mobile Park, right?)

Felix struck out all 27 batters he faced in a 1-0 win over the Rays, marking the 23rd perfect game in MLB history and the first in M ​​history.

“I always think about that every game: ‘I have to throw a perfect game,’” Hernandez said. “Today it happened and it’s something special. Like I said before, I have no words to explain it. It’s just amazing.”

By meerna

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