The other day I watched one of my favorite videos of all time, “My Oh My”. Recently, the Mariners have been depressing and every once in awhile I need to remind myself that the Mariners were good at one moment in time. Here’s a quick breakdown on the season that forever changed the direction of this franchise.
No player matched the performance of Ken Griffey Jr. in the 90′s. His signature swing and infectious smile transformed the “Kid” into a living legend.
While Griffey impressed at the plate and in center field, Randy Johnson became one of the game’s best pitchers. “The Big Unit” ‘s mustache and trend setting mullet instilled fear into opposing batters.
I could go on and on about all the talent; Edgar Martinez, Tino Martinez, Joey Cora, and Jay Buhner are just a couple of another names to mention. With the best player in baseball and the best pitcher, expectations were high for this team going into the season. However, 27 games in, on May 26, Griffey injured himself while making a highlight catch, breaking two bones in his left wrist. On August 15 Griffey returned to a team that was clinging to a 51-50 record and 12.5 games back of the California Angels.
Over the next 33 games, the Mariners slowly chipped away at the Angels’ lead. And on September 6th, the Mariners had a 73-63 record, seizing the lead over the California Angels. They stayed on top of the division for ten days, and on September 30th the California Angels were able to tie the Mariners for the division lead. The two teams were forced to play an extra play-in game in Seattle to decide who would play in the playoffs.
The Mariners won the game and the AL West title, the first ever in franchise history. They moved on to play the mighty New York Yankees in a best of five divisonal series. This division pitted the Yankees, who haven’t made the playoffs since 1981 and the Mariners who had never made the playoffs. Many baseball fans consider the ’95 American League Division Series the best playoff series of all time. Coming from two games down, the Mariners tied the series at 2-2, forcing a decisive game five to be played in the Kingdome.
At this time, Mariner fever swept the city and the region with the slogan “Refuse to Lose” became the defining line of this ’95 team. Over the season, the team would come from behind in many games, and they ended up coming from 13.5 games down to securing a spot in the playoffs. Game five produced one of the most memorable games in any Mariners fan’s heart.
With the game tied, 4-4, the teams moved onto extra innings. In the top of the 11th, Randy Velarde singled to drive in pinch runner Pat Kelly to seize a 5-4 lead.
But the Mariners refused to lose.
Joey Cora started things off by drag bunting and safely reaching 1st base, then Griffey singled and Cora advanced to third base. With no outs and runners on first and third, Edgar Martinez stepped to the plate, and the rest is history…
The Mariners ended up losing in six games to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series. Although the magical ride ended, the fans in Seattle finally knew what it was like to have a successful baseball team, and the Mariners were no longer a subpar expansion team but a permamnent part of Seattle culture.
Edgar’s in game five of the ALDS is known for how it sent the M’s into the ALCS, but it is also the hit that built Safeco Field. The buzz created by this team’s success increased support in the political arena to provide funding for a new stadium.