Wendel: Griffey and Edgar and the Mariners’ renaissance

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on December 26, 2016:

Back when the Seattle Mariners still called the Kingdome home, the construction of Safeco Field took place right next door. By midseason of 1998, enough had been done so that the Mariners’ hitting stars could hold an impromptu batting practice at the new digs.

That first time was a spur-of-the-moment event. In the late hours after another home victory, one of the trainers told Ken Griffey, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, and a young Alex Rodriguez that they could take a few swings at the new Safeco right now, after hours, if they wanted. All of them accepted the invitation.

About an hour later, they returned to the home clubhouse with pained expressions. Rodriguez was the most distraught, saying the ball hardly carried in the new ballpark compared with Kingdome. The new ballpark was also domed, but its retractable roof worked more like a giant umbrella and didn’t completely enclose the stadium. Gaps above the seats allowed the heavy, foggy air to drift in.

“No way I am staying here, trying to hit in that place,” Rodriguez said before Griffey shot him a look.

Indeed, Rodriguez would eventually sign with the Texas Rangers, and Griffey would return home to Cincinnati. But Martinez, the team’s exceptional designated hitter, was less strident about the new stadium.

“Seattle is home,” he said that evening. “If that’s where we play, that’s where I’ll play.”

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/ken-griffey-jr-and-edgar-martinez

Originally published: December 27, 2016. Last Updated: December 27, 2016.