Saturday, December 1, 2018

Around the Horn: Seattle Mariners

It's time for another entry in my "Around the Horn" series, this time the Seattle Mariners are up! The Mariners debuted in 1977 but it wasn't Seattle's first foray into the world of MLB. The first go-round was in 1969 with the infamous "one and done" Seattle Pilots. More on them another time once I get to the Milwaukee Brewers entry in this series.

When thinking of the Mariners, the first person that comes to mind, at least for me, is Ken Griffey Jr. Now, normally I would show only a few cards of player collections but with Griffey, I decided to show all the Mariners cards I have, aside from the two 1989 Bowman rookies. One day I would like to own a 1989 Upper Deck Griffey. I guess I could consider that one of those "white whale" type deals but for now, I'll settle with what I've got. 

During his time in Seattle, there were also four baseball video games that were put out with Griffey's name on them during his time in Seattle, "Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball" and "Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run" for the Super Nintendo and "Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr" and "Ken Griffey Jr's Slugfest" for the N64. At some point next year, I might do an article about those games as they were by far my favorites of any baseball video game.

I see no reason why Edgar Martinez shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame to be honest. He was a 7-time All-Star, finished in the Top 20 of MVP voting five times (including twice in the top ten), won five Silver Slugger awards, won the AL Batting Title twice, and is the Mariners all-time leader in doubles, total bases, and RBIs.

My grandpa used to call Randy Johnson "big ugly" because of the long hair and bushy mustache he always sported. I always enjoyed watching Johnson pitch. Occasionally, I'd get to see a Mariners game if it was on ESPN or on national TV but mostly I'd only know what was happening by the clips from SportsCenter. That being said, I really enjoy going back now and collecting his cards

Another young star of those 90s Mariners teams was A-Rod. While I'm not really a big fan of him with the Yankees or Rangers, I tend to keep an eye out for cheap A-Rod Seattle cards. These are the four favorites of mine that I have that chronicle his stay in the Pacific Northwest.

The Tino Martinez card I have here probably has to be my favorite one I have of him with the M's. It's just a flat out cool looking card with the teal jersey, gold foil on the bottom, and great picture of him finishing his swing.

For more modern fans, Ichiro is probably one of the other names people think about when someone mentions the Mariners (well, there's also Felix Hernandez). He debuted in 2001 as part of that legendary team that won 116 games and made it to the ALCS for the second year in a row. I really need to invest in more Ichiro cards as I've only got a handful but that card from this years Topps Big League set is probably one of the best ones I've got.

Going back to the beginning now, this 1978 Topps team card is showing what I'm guessing to be the inaugural Mariners team. There weren't many star players on that team but there were players such as Ray Fosse, Julio Cruz, Skip Jutze, Rick Honeycutt, and Doc Medich. One interesting player on that team was Diego Segui, who I believe was the only person to play for both the Pilots in 1969 and the inaugural Mariners team in 1977.

The Mariners in the early years had an interesting mix of players both young and old, including a number of players that I'm sure most had ever forgotten had played for Seattle. Larry Andersen spent two seasons in Mariner blue, going 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 81 games, mostly as a reliever. Tom Paciorek's only All-Star season came as a Mariner in 1981 but I best remember him calling White Sox games with Hawk Harrelson on WGN Superstation in the 90s. Former Reds manager Jerry Narron was a back-up catcher in 1980 and 1981 and then returned for four games in 1987. Jeff Burroughs was one of the early "short term stops" of the Mariners, having appeared in 89 games with the 1981 squad.

Gaylord Perry spent the waning years of his career up in Seattle as well. He spent the entire 1982 season and then the first part of the 1983 season before being released mid-season. He latched on with the Royals to close out his career. These are the only two cards I have that chronicle Perry's stint with the M's.

I showed these last summer when I found them in a yard sale haul my stepmom picked up but I wanted to show them here as well for mere curiosity sake. These are some 1984 O-Pee-Chee cards. While these aren't the most notable names, I still find early 80s O-Pee-Chee cards pretty cool.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Julio Cruz was probably the Mariners first homegrown "star". He was plucked from the Angels in the expansion draft and was promptly installed as the second baseman (and occasional SS and DH). He spent 7 seasons in Seattle and actually finished in the top 25 of MVP voting in 1983. I don't remember where I found this card but I think it's pretty neat to have an oddball card of a player withe the old school "trident logo" on their hat.

I can't go without showing some 1986 Topps cards (I swear one day I'm going to put that set together). But also the Danny Tartabull and Mark Langston cards can't be forgotten about. Both guys had some pretty decent careers. I don't know what it is but there's something about all four of these cards together that just makes me smile.

I should probably add Dave Burba to the list of players I collect. He was one of the Reds top pitchers in the mid-90s and I remember going to a game that he was pitching once where he lost a no-hitter with five outs to go.

Bret Boone debuted as a rookie for the Mariners in 1992 and played more as a backup until he was traded to the Reds along with Erik Hanson for Bobby Ayala and Dan Wilson. The trade worked out well for all, Boone and Hanson were key parts of the Reds success in the mid-90s, including a trip to the NLCS in 1995. Wilson became the longtime catcher for the Mariners and Ayala teamed up with another former Red in Norm Charlton in the Seattle bullpen.

Kevin Mitchell goes into the lore of Mariners "short term stops" as he spent the 1993 season in the Pacific Northwest before being traded to the Reds for the aforementioned Norm Charlton. What is it with all these Reds/Mariners trades in the 90s? The Mariners even got Lou Piniella as the manager after he left the Reds.

I forgot the recently retired Adrian Beltre was with the Mariners until I saw this card. I figured it was probably for only a year or two, but no, he stuck with them for five years and won two Gold Gloves there. 

Carl Everett though did only spend one season in Seattle, that being his final season in the bigs. He appeared in 92 games for a 2006 Mariners squad that finished 4th in the AL West.

I'd forgotten that John Olerud also had a tour of duty up north. This card is interesting as in has a box score of a random game in the bottom right. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it to be honest. I know it's the only card I have like that.

Hey look! It's a card of new Reds manager David Bell (again the Mariners/Reds connection is mind blowing). While the Reds haven't signed any players, they've completely started from scratch with a new manager and a whole new coaching staff. That's another story for another day though.

I'll round this out with a few more recent cards. By the time this posts, Robinson Cano may or may not still be a Mariner (there were rumors swirling about him being traded to the Mets as I'm writing this). Of the 2018 cards, I thought Archives was a bust this year but I really enjoyed the flagship cards and Heritage.

That puts the bow on this edition of "Around the Horn". Next up ... the Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns.


  1. If I wasn't an A's fan, I'd probably be a Mariners fan. I love the city of Seattle.

  2. Ken Griffey Jr Presents MLB was epic for SNES back in the day. Maybe a top 10 all time favorite video game of mine!

    1. It's still the standard I compare baseball video games today to. It was incredibly easy to pick up and just start playing.

  3. Growing up an M's fan, I was kind of waiting for this particular post... and I'm happy to say that you didn't disappoint :)

  4. Fantastic post! It's sad what the franchise is doing this off-season, but hopefully better days are ahead. The Kingdome team card is my favorite here, but you included a lot of great M's cards.

    Edgar will most likely get in to Cooperstown this coming year. It took me a few years to realize that he's HOF-worthy, but I agree that he should be in.