Posted by: dodgrblu | July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Safeco Field!

Pop quiz time: where were you on July 15, 1999?

Safeco Field, Home of the Seattle Mariners

Dear God, what IS that big ugly hulk out in left field? No, NOT Butch Huskey--BEHIND left field. That structure that looks like a concrete citrus juicer!

I was in the upper deck, right field, of Safeco Field with 44,606 of my closest friends.

July 15, 1999, was a beautiful evening for baseball, as the Mariners welcomed their “hated rivals,” the San Diego Padres, into their brand new home. (Yep, the Mariners and the Padres hate each other so much that they share a Spring Training complex.)

(When reading this next paragraph, please turn on in your head the voice of long-time Mariners PA announcer, Tom Hutyler.)

And now the starting lineup for yourrrrrr 1999 Seattle Mariners, as announced by Manager Lou Piniella!

Batting first, second baseman, #25, David Bell!

Batting second, first baseman, #21, David Segui!

Batting third, center fielder, #24, Ken..Griffey…Junior!

Batting fourth, shortstop, #3, Alex Rodriguez! (Heh: back before he became Public Enemy #13.)

Batting fifth, designated hitter, #11, Edgar Martinez!

Batting sixth, right fielder, #19 Jay Buhner!

Batting seventh, left fielder, #42, Butch Huskey!

Batting eighth, third baseman, #18, Russ Davis!

And batting ninth, the catcher, #8, Dan Wilson!

Pitching for the Mariners, and warming up in the left-field bullpen, #50, Jamie Moyer!

(Okay, you can turn off the Tom Hutyler voice in your head now.)

The Mariners lost that night. Do I really need to remind you who blew the save?  Why, it was He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and I’m not talking about Lord Voldemort.

Actually, Jose Mesa (oops, named him!) is the subject of one of my clearest memories from that night. As Mesa was diligently working on losing the game, a train came by, blowing its horn. A very quick-witted gentleman in our section stood up and yelled, “Hey, Mesa! Your train’s leaving!” I wish I’d been quick enough to add, “Be UNDER it!”

Another interesting tidbit from the box score: the home plate umpire that night? Jim Joyce! That’s right—the umpire who, to use his words,“kicked the sh*t out of” the biggest call of his career, costing Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game earlier this year.

Still in her prime after 11 years, Safeco Field is a beautiful venue for baseball.* It’s a damn shame we don’t have a competitive team to play there.

It is a civic tragedy that the Mariners are no closer to winning their first World Championship than they were in 1999. In fact, in all the ways that count, they are further away from winning it all. And for this we thank you, Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. (It’s a shame folks at the top of a troubled organization seldom get around to firing themselves.)

So, Happy 11th Birthday, Safeco Field! And many, many, MANY more. You look marvelous!

*Stunning confession of a Seattleite: Safeco is NOT my favorite of the new generation of ballparks. Biggest flaw: there are far more obstructed view seats than there should be in a newer ballpark. Anyone who says “there’s not a bad seat in the house” hasn’t had the privilege of sitting in seats 1 and 2 of the lower rows of the upper deck behind home plate. (Take THAT, Rick Rizzs.)


  1. My darling husband tells me I misspelled Tom Hutyler’s name. (He works with him, so he should know.) So I went in and fixed it. Sorry, Mr. Hutyler.

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