Friday, November 8, 2013
August 8- Seattle Mariners
Back on March 4th I tackled the original trident cap that the Seattle Mariners wore from 1977-1980, but I purposely left out one particular detail as it pertains to the cap that I’m writing about today. The 1979 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 50th playing of the midsummer classic between the All-Star of the American League and National League and it took place at the four-year-old Kingdome in Seattle, Washington. The game is perhaps most remembered for the play of Dave Parker in the outfield, as he had two assists on putouts at third base and at the plate. With Parker receiving the MVP award for this game, and teammate Willie Stargell winning the NL MVP, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP, all four possible MVP awards for the season were won by members of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The game was also notable for the play of Lee Mazzilli, the lone representative from the then-lowly New York Mets, providing the 7-6 margin of victory. In his only All Star appearance, Mazzilli tied the game in the eighth inning with a pinch hit home run off of Jim Kern of the Texas Rangers, and then put the NL ahead for good in the ninth, drawing a bases-loaded walk against Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees. This would be the only time the Kingdome would host the All-Star Game. When it returned to Seattle for a second time in 2001, the Mariners had moved to their new home at Safeco Field. The other important detail from this game is that the Mariners inadvertently created one of the most iconic logos in All-Star Game history which they would ultimately don as the primary logo for their caps and uniforms.
Since the All-Star Game was first played in Chicago at Comiskey Field in 1933 it had become customary for the host team to come up with some sort of a cool logo when advertising for the game. You’re probably thinking that my math is off based in the year of the first game played and how the 50th game took place in 1979. Well, from 1959-1961 the All-Star Game was played twice per year, typically one in June and the other in July. In 1961, the final double-dip, the second game, hosted at Fenway Park, ended in a tie. Now where have we seen that happen?
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the logos created are usually only meant for their one-time use at the All-Star Game; however, the Mariners and their fans took quite a liking to the logo they had created for their midsummer classic and decided to make it their official logo for their game caps from 1981 through 1986. With the exception of a few of the teams who incorporated the cap logo into their All-Star Game logos, the Mariners are the only team to do it the other way around.
One of the unfortunate things about this cap is that not a whole lot happened for the Mariners while they wore it with the exception of the players strike which took place in 1981. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it or listed it, but changing uniforms does have a tendency to bring success for a lot of teams, but when it doesn’t, all Hell breaks loose. Besides the strike, this bit of bad fortune befell upon the Mariners: On April 25, 1981, Mariners' manager Maury Wills advised the Kingdome groundskeepers to enlarge the batter's box by a foot. A's manager Billy Martin noticed. Martin showed umpire Bill Kunkel that the batter's box was seven feet long instead of six feet. Martin felt that batters being able to move up a foot in the box could cut at pitches before a curveball broke. Wills was suspended for two games and fined $500. In May, while in Arlington, Texas to play the Texas Rangers, the Mariners' uniforms were stolen.
On May 28th, this happened...
In the sixth inning, Amos Otis of the Kansas City Royals topped a ball down the third-base line. Lenny Randle, the Seattle third baseman, charged the ball, fell on his stomach and appeared to blow the ball into foul territory. Larry McCoy, the home plate umpire, ruled the ball foul, but manager Jim Frey protested. After a discussion, the umpires awarded Otis first base, ruling Randle had illegally altered the course of the ball. Two days later in a game against the Rangers, the Mariners wore their batting practice jerseys, Milwaukee Brewers' caps, and Rangers' batting helmets. The Mariners purchased the Brewers caps at the Rangers' souvenir-stand; the Rangers did not offer Seattle caps for sale.
The only other notable moment came in 1985. On July 9th, in a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Mariners at Seattle, Jays catcher Buck Martinez executed a double play by tagging out two runners at home plate. In the third inning, Phil Bradley was on second when Gorman Thomas singled. Bradley was tagged out at home, on a throw from Jesse Barfield to Buck Martinez. There was a collision between Bradley and Martinez; Martinez broke his ankle. Martinez was sitting on the ground in agony and threw the ball to third base in an attempt to tag out Gorman Thomas. The throw went into left field and Thomas ran towards home plate. Toronto left fielder George Bell threw the ball back to Martinez. He was still seated on the ground in pain but was able to tag Gorman Thomas for the second out.
Despite having stars such as Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry (nicknamed the "Ancient Mariner"), 1984 AL Rookie of the Year Alvin Davis, two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner Harold Reynolds, three-time American League strikeout leader Mark Langston, and shortstop and team captain Spike Owen on their rosters, the Mariners teams of the entirety of the 1980s were characterized by perennial non-achievement, gaining a reputation for poor performances, low attendance, and losing records. Moreover, the team's ownership again changed hands after the 1988 season, as then-owner George Argyros sold the club to a group headed by communications magnate Jeff Smulyan. However, the 1989 rookie season of center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr., acquired with the first overall pick of the 1987 amateur draft, gave fans hope that a change of fortunes might be on the horizon.
The Mariners since wore the caps for their Turn Back the Clock nights on June 25, 2010 against the Milwaukee Brewers and July 1, 2011 against the San Diego Padres. With all that in mind, it made my markings a bit of a challenge, but I’m pretty happy with my selections and their place in Mariners’ history.
#12- Born and raised in San Diego, California Mark Langston was a second round draft pick by the Mariners out of San Jose State in the 1981 amateur draft. From then until the end of the 1983 season he came up through the ranks of the Mariners’ minor league system, but bypassed AAA altogether when he made is MLB debut on April y, 1984. His most notable season in the minors came in 1982 when he was with the Class-A Bakersfield Mariners and went 12-7 with a 2.54 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 177 1/3 innings.
Langston served as the team’s ace his rookie season, going 17-10 with a 3.04 ERA and a league-leading 202 strikeouts. He ended up finishing in second place for the AL Rookie of the Year Award thanks in part by his jerk of a teammate Alvin Davis who had a great offensive showing. Either way, the important thing to note from the two finishing one-two for the Rookie of the Year Award is that they both beat out Kirby Puckett and Roger Clemens. 1982 proved to be a pretty rough sophomore season for Langston, but he picked his game back up in 1983 when he led the league in strikeouts again with 245. Unfortunately he also led the league in earned runs with 129 as well. Yikes!
In 1987, of course the first year not wearing this cap, Langston had his best year in Seattle, going 19-13 with a 3.84 ERA and once again leading the league in strikeouts with 262. He also made his first All-Star Game appearance and won the first of his back-to-back Gold Gloves. Langston would win seven for his career. But not to sell him short, Langston also finished fifth for the AL Cy Young Award, the highest finish he garner for his career.
Langston went 15-11 with 235 strikeouts in 1988, but got off to a mediocre 4-5 start in 1989 when he found himself on the trading block in July where he was sent to the Montreal Expos along with Mike Campbell for Gene Harris, Brian Holman and Randy Johnson. Langston pitched for 10 more seasons, eight of which came with the California Angels from 1990-1997 when they changed their name to the Anaheim Angels. In 1998 he was a member of the NL pennant-winning San Diego Padres. Noted for his pickoff move to first base, his 91 career pickoffs were, at the time of his retirement, the most in baseball history. Today, he has the fourth-most pickoffs in baseball history, behind only Kenny Rogers, Terry Mulholland and Andy Pettitte, all of them also left-handed pitchers. Currently, Langston serves as a radio color commentator for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during Angels home games. Starting in 2013, Langston does radio color commentary for all games and is also a co-host of the Angels post-game call-in show Angel Talk on radio station KLAA. He also appeared as himself in an episode of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.”
#29- Speaking of players most of you have probably never heard of, Phil Bradley is arguably one of the greatest hitters in the history of the Mariners’ organization. Bradley played high school baseball in Macomb, Illinois for the Macomb High Bombers. Due to his success there, the Macomb High School baseball field was later dedicated in his name. Also a talented football player, he played college football at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri and was their starting quarterback from 1978 through 1980. One of the most decorated athletes in Mizzou history, Bradley lettered in football from 1977-81, and in baseball in 1979-81. Bradley quarterbacked the Tigers to three bowl games. He was a three-time Big Eight Conference "Offensive Player of the Year" and set the conference total offense record at 6,459 yards which stood for 10 years. In baseball, he starred as an outfielder on Mizzou teams that won the Big Eight championship in 1980, and went to the NCAA Tournament in 1980 and 1981.
Bradley was selected in the third round of the 1981 amateur draft by the Mariners and made his Major League debut on September 2, 1983, as a pinch hitter against the New York Yankees. Bradley became Seattle's regular left fielder in 1984, batting .301 in 124 games. In 1985 he hit .300 with career-highs in home runs (26) and RBI (880 in 159 games and was selected to the AL All-Star team. He also finished 16th for the AL MVP that season. On April 29, 1986, Bradley was Roger Clemens' 20th and final strikeout as the pitcher set a major league record for strikeouts in a game. In December of 1987, the Mariners traded Bradley and Tim Fortugno to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Mike Jackson, Glenn Wilson, and minor leaguer Dave Brundage.
Bradley hit a respectable .264 in his only season with the Phillies. Almost one year to the day since arriving from the Mariners, the Phillies, desperately in need of pitching help, dealt Bradley to the Baltimore Orioles for Gordon Dillard and Ken Howell. Back in the more familiar AL, Bradley's batting average rose to .277 in his first season in Baltimore. In mid-season 1990, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Ron Kittle. His final major league appearance came on September 29, 1990, as he drew two walks and scored a run in a 5-2 White Sox win over the Seattle Mariners. For the Mariners Bradley his .301 lifetime with 52 home runs, 234 RBI and even stole 107 bases.