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The Seattle Mariners were the surprise of the American League in 2007. They look to continue on that success in the up-coming season.
Replacing the Pilots
Going into the 1970 season, the city of Seattle was home to a Major League franchise—the Seattle Pilots, an expansion team which began playing 1969 Seattle Pilots. But the Pilots, doomed to play in a minor league stadium, were bought out of bankruptcy by Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee.
The city's plans to bring baseball back to the Emerald City began immediately. The city, county, and state filed suit against the American League claiming that the league breached its contract with the municipalities, and, expecting baseball to return, the city built the Kingdome. Simultaneously, a group from Seattle devised a plan to purchase and relocate the Chicago White Sox, but the League put the kibosh on that, refusing to grant permission for the relocation.
Fearing legal ramifications, the American League instead expanded into both Seattle and Toronto to start the 1977 season.
The New Franchise Debuts
With Darrell Johnson at the helm, the Mariners did one thing well: lose. They lost their first game—April 6, 1977, at the Kingdome with former Seattle Pilots pitcher Diego Segui on the mound. The California Angels came to town and played party-pooper, winning 7-0. While the Mariners were better than their expansion-brethren Blue Jays by 9.5 games, and while they were spared the cellar by the woeful Oakland Athletics, their 64-98 record for the 1977 season was hardly a badge of honor.
The losing tradition continued through the decade, as the 1978 team was even worse, posting a franchise-low .350 winning percentage. On their way to losing 104 games, one bright star shone, as Leon Roberts put up a .301/22/92 line, leading the team in all three categories, and finishing in the top 10 in batting average and slugging percentage in the AL. Unfortunately, that would be Roberts' best year by far, as he'd put up only 32 more homers over his final six seasons in the bigs.
As 1979 and then 1980 came and went, so did Johnson, replaced by Hall of Famer Maury Wills. Wills fared no better, going 26-56 in what would amount to interim duties, as the 1981 baseball strike doubly limited his time at the helm. After a 6-18 start, he was replaced by Rene Lachemann, with no avail, as the M's won a mere 44 games in the strike-shortened season. To add insult to injury, the hapless Mariners also fell victims to a dissolving fan base. Toward the end of the 1981 season, the losing, the Kingdome, and the strike all took their toll, and the M's drew under 15,000 fans per game.
Gaylord Perry, the USS Mariner, and the Saturday Massacre
With fans avoiding the team like the plague, and with wins nowhere on the horizon—the Mariners' first winning season would not come until 1991 -- the team turned to showmanship. Gaylord Perry, a future Hall of Famer, was released by the Atlanta Braves. At 43 years old, the former Cy Young Award winner was hardly the right person for this team to add; however, he had 297 career wins to his credit. The Mariners brought Perry on board in hopes that his quest for the milestone 300th win would bring in the fans, and it did—on May 6, 1982, the team drew over 27,000 fans as Perry tossed a complete game, beating the New York Yankees 7-3. Another bright spot: Floyd Bannister, at age 27, hit his stride and not only made the All-Star team, but also lead the league in strikeouts. The Mariners had their best season to date, finishing 76-86.
The showboating continued—literally—into 1983, with the team rolling out the "USS Mariner", a boat stationed behind the outfield wall which would fire a cannon after every Mariner home run and, via its tugboat, bring relieves into the bullpen. But the next season was a return to form (or lack thereof) as the 1983 Seattle Mariners once again finished with more than 100 losses. In an effort to revitalize the team, they traded fan favorite Julio Cruz to the Chicago White Sox for Tony Bernazard (who they'd flip at the end of the season for Gorman Thomas and Jack Perconte), invoking the ire of the fan base. Ten days later, on Saturday, June 25, the team fired Lachemann, replacing him with Del Grandall, and on the same day, released Perry and shortstop Todd Cruz. In reaction, paid attendance plummeted to roughly 10,000 a game.
The Youth Movement Begins
Alvin Davis and Mark Langston, a duo whose names warm the cockles of a long-time Mariners fan's heart. Both 23 years old during the Mariners season, the pair made making going to the Kingdome worthwhile. Davis would win the Rookie of the Year Award, slugging 27 home runs and 116 RBI while putting up a .284/.391/.497 and homering in his second major league at-bat, off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Langston's season was just as impressive, going 17-10 with a 3.40 ERA, and leading the AL with 204 strikeouts. But for Davis' season, Langston would have won the ROY—he came in second. The Mariners went 74-88, fourteen games better than they did the year before, yet Del Crandall gave way to Chuck Cottier nevertheless. Hope was on the horizon—albeit a false one.
- The Baseball Club of Seattle, LP. July 1992
- Jeff Smulyan, Emmis Broadcasting, Michael Browning and the Morgan Stanley Group, Inc. Oct. 1989
- George Argyros Jan. 1981
- Partners Stanley Golub, Danny Kaye, Walter Schoenfeld, Lester Smith, James Stillwell Jr. and James A Walsh Feb. 1976
- Jim Riggleman 2008–present
- John McLaren 2007–Present
- Mike Hargrove 2005-2007
- Bob Melvin 2003-2004
- Lou Piniella 1993-2002
- Bill Plummer 1992
- Jim Lefebvre 1989-91
- Jim Snyder 1988
- Dick Williams 1986-88
- Marty Martinez 1986
- Chuck Cottier 1984-86
- Del Crandell 1983-84
- Rene Lachemann 1981-83
- Maury Wills 1980-81
- Darrell Johnson 1977-1980
Rookie of the Year
- Randy Johnson 1995
- Ichiro Suzuki 2001-2007 OF
- Adrian Beltre 2007 3B
- Bret Boone 2001-2004 2B
- John Olerud 2000-2003 1B
- Mike Cameron 2001, 2003 OF
- Ken Griffey Jr. 1990-1999 OF
- Jay Buhner 1996 OF
- Omar Vizquel 1993 SS
- Harold Reynolds 1988-1990 2B
- Mark Langston 1987-1988 P
- Bret Boone 2B 2001, 2003
- Edgar Martinez DH 1992, 1997, 2001, 2003
- Ichiro Suzuki OF 2001
- Alex Rodriguez SS 1996, 1998–2000
- Ken Griffey Jr. OF 1991, 1993–94, 1996–1999
Record Per Season
Minor League Teams
- Triple A: Tacoma Rainiers, Pacific Coast League
- Double A: West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, Southern League
- Advanced A: High Desert Mavericks, California League
- Single A: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Midwest League
- Short A: Everett AquaSox, Northwest League
- Rookie: Pulaski Mariners, Appalachian League
- Rookie: AZL Mariners, Arizona League
- Rookie: VSL Mariners, Venezuelan Summer League