“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Many of you remember the Kid, Ken Griffey Jr., well not much a kid any more, Griffey has been immortalized in Cooperstown, and will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball. For a good reason too, his sweet swing, his calm demeanor, and his unlikely power made him not only likeable, but one of the best. However, that’s not all he was an amazing defender, and had great speed. He was one of the originals to epitomize the five tool player. It was 1995, ALDS and the Mariners were looking like a promising young team while on the other side was the perennial juggernaut New York Yankees. Game 5 had come and it was a tight series. This one was so tight it needed 11 innings to finish. Involved in this moment were three Seattle icons, Dave Niehaus, Edgar Martinez, and of course Junior. It was that speed that made this moment, and Edgar Martinez did what he did best hit the baseball. Dave Niehaus has a special moment as he inadvertently sets up the call perfectly. It may be a broadcast anomaly, but it was priceless.
So it was the bottom of the 11th and the stakes were high at the Kingdome, the Yankees took a lead earlier in the inning, and they were only a few outs away from going back to where they have been so many times. Joey Cora, who would have a respectable career at a bench player started the inning off with a drag bunt narrowly missing a tag by Don Mattingly. Next up is Griffey and the Mariners fans are now on the edge of their seats, because they know their best hitters are coming us. Griffey pokes a well placed grounder right past the second baseman. The runners are on 1st and 3rd. Edgar Martinez comes to the plate and then we get the call.
The Mariners would love a base hit into the gap and they could win it with Juniors speed.
The Stretch. And the 0-1 pitch on the way to Edgar Martinez
Swung on and lined down the left field line for a base hit! Here comes Joey! Here is Junior to third base! There going to wave him in! The throw to the plate will be…late the Mariners are going to play for the American League Championship. I don’t believe it it just continues, MY OH MY! Edgar Martinez with a double ripped down the left field line and they are going crazy at the Kingdome.
For me this moment gives me chills, as a baseball purist this is what we love to see. It’s a moment where the spectacular can happen. It gave that city hope and joy. It united the city of Seattle for that moment. It was a perfectly orchestrated moment in baseball history. While the Mariners did not win it that year, something in the hears of Washingtonians changed that year, and the Mariners were relevant again. It’s almost as if God knew exactly what needed to happen, and it wouldn’t have been fitting for the M’s to have just had a walk off home run, no because it was something that told a story, and God is the greatest storyteller. Baseball has a knack for the dramatic, and this was dramatic. Baseball was not exactly the most popular sports, and some had written baseball was not safe in Seattle, but due to this teams success you can still see Mariners baseball today. The Yankees took a 2-0 series lead. The Mariners came back and won the series 3-2. Going into the 8th the Yankees were leading 4-2 and then Ken Griffey Jr. shifted the momentum. The Mariners had found all season, so when the Yankees broke the tie in the 11th, it seemed like clock work and natural the Mariners would have to grind to win the game. The renewed fan interest allowed the city to approve the construction of a new stadium and Safeco Field now exist.
It’s just how baseball works, but it seems like God was with Seattle, and I’m not saying that God dictated who wins what games, but the manner the Mariners continued to grind out that victory and how it saved that city it seemed like there was something more involved. The Mariners in this series were with that fan base until the very end, and through that the fans wanted to back these guys. With that support the Mariners remained in Seattle, and would go on to many more impressive seasons under manager Lou Piniella. When it seemed like hope may be lost for baseball in Seattle, something spectacular happens and history was forever changed, My Oh My!