A Dream of Fields 11: The Seattle Mariners

Sadly, this is the last ballpark in my series. It’s the last home team I’ve seen, and if you look at the date below, you’ll see that I’m long overdue to go somewhere with a ballpark. Washington, D.C. isn’t too far away, and I’d love to go to Toronto. Someday…

But I can say that I made it all the way out to Seattle—the city farthest away from the next-closest MLB team. Seriously, every other team has another team in the same state or in an adjacent state; Seattle’s closest (San Francisco/Oakland) is two states away.

Sunday, June 29, 2003, 1:05pm

Safeco Field


San Diego Padres 8, Seattle Mariners 6

I got married on June 27, 1998, and if you’ve been following this series, you know that while on my honeymoon in Quebec, my then-wife and I went to see a Montreal Expos game. For our second anniversary (2000), we spent a week in Cleveland attending a seminar at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While we were there, we were able to attend an Indians game.

Well, the main speaker at that seminar was about to leave the Rock Hall to become the head curator (or something big and important like that) at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. My then-wife was a music teacher at the time, so naturally the EMP was somewhere she eventually wanted to go.

The following year, our first daughter was born, so naturally, we didn’t do much traveling. A few years later, we discussed having another child, so if we were going to go out to Seattle, it would have to be before that happened. Our fifth anniversary was in 2003, and our oldest was just about to turn two years old. If my then-wife had been pregnant (she wasn’t yet), she wouldn’t have been much more than a month along, so it was the perfect opportunity—perhaps the only opportunity—to plan a surprise getaway.

I got her parents in on the plans quickly, as they would watch our daughter. Still new parents, I didn’t feel comfortable planning an extended vacation—even if we were traveling cross-country—so the trip would be a full weekend away. I booked airfare, hotel, and rental car online. The flight out there left Providence at about 7am on a Friday, and we had a short layover in Chicago, but we would arrive in Seattle before noon, local time. We’d pretty much have all day Friday to sightsee, and then all day Saturday, and even all day Sunday if we took a 10pm red-eye flight home. And naturally, I ordered two tickets to a Mariners game.

About two weeks before the trip, a friend of hers was at the house. The friend asked for a ride to the airport (she was visiting family in Pennsylvania) on the morning we were leaving. I was in the living room while they were in the kitchen/dining area, and I heard my then-wife’s response: “Well, that’s our anniversary. I don’t know what Pete has planned, but I’m sure I could take you.” Then she asked me if our plans would conflict with her friend’s request.

I could have said no problem and contacted the friend the next day with the info; she’d understand and find a different ride. But I didn’t. I froze. Like a deer in the headlights. What came out of my mouth was: “No, you can’t.”

“What do you mean I can’t?”

“We’ll be…busy.”

“All day? Doing what?”

The friend said, “I think you’re going away.”

Bag open. Cat let out.

At that point, I decided to make her work for it by playing twenty questions. If she figured it out, then great. But if she didn’t, then she wouldn’t know where we were going until we got to the airport.

Question #1: “Are we getting on a plane?” Yes. She was pretty excited about that.

Question #2: “Are we leaving the country?” No.

Question #3: “Will we be away for more than three days?” No. Quite honestly, this was a wasted question. It didn’t give her information about a where, just a how long.

Question #4: “Are we going west of the Mississippi River?” Yes. This was a big thing for her, as at the time, she had never traveled beyond the Midwest.

Question #5: (asked immediately) “Are we going to SEATTLE?” Yes. The fact that the first location she named was the one that I had chosen told me that I had chosen well.

The weather was beautiful while we were there. For most of the weekend, there wasn’t any rain. On our first day there, we visited the Experience Music Project and had dinner in the rotating restaurant in The Space Needle. On our second day there, we drove to Mt. St. Helens. On out third day, we took one of those duck tours around the city and into the water around it. And then we went to the Mariners game.

It was the first interleague game I had ever seen, as the American League Seattle Mariners played (and lost to) the National League San Diego Padres. But most notably about the game was—for the first time during our trip there—it started to rain.

Because of the almost daily possibility of rain out there in the Pacific Northwest, Safeco field has a retractable roof. In the middle of the game, it started to close. THIS WAS MESMERIZING! For those 15-20 minutes, I have no idea what happened on the field. I watched the roof slowly close, and I even took photos of it.

Just like that roof closed, so shall this series of blog posts. I have yet to see a home game for any of the remaining 19 teams (20 if you consider the Washington Nationals as separate from the Montreal Expos). I am going to change this—someday—and when I do, I’ll add those stories here. Someday I’ll do it. Maybe after my kids finish college.

Thanks for taking this trip down my memory lane with me!

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Check out the other posts in this series:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Montreal Expos
  6. New York Mets
  7. Philadelphia Phillies
  8. New York Yankees
  9. Cleveland Indians
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates


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