The Mariners, and their marketing whizzes Kevin Martinez and Gregg Greene, seem to have hit on a winning formula. On their last homestand, they brought back members of the 116-game-winning 2001 M’s team for a stirring ceremony, and tonight at Safeco Field they’ll be honoring the legacy of the Seattle SuperSonics with the biggest reunion of former Sonic players since they bolted for Oklahoma City.
When you’ve got a team on the field fresh off a 17-game losing streak and once again buried in the basement, you need to be creative to put butts in the seats (though, in fairness, the 2001 and Sonic reunions were planned way back in December, when hopes for the Mariners were still
high medium). These reunions are a perfect diversion — fun, nostalgic, heart-tugging. So in that spirit, I’ve decided to helpfully suggest a few more reunions the Mariners could stage.
The 1917 Seattle Metropolitans. Who can ever forget Pete Muldoon, Roy Rickey, Bobby Rowe and the rest of the ’17 Mets, who became the first American team to ever win the Stanley Cup? Well, I think almost everyone has forgotten, but the M’s can change that. The star of the team was Bernie Morris, who scored 14 of the Mets’ 19 goals in the series win over the Montreal Canadiens. Bernie has been dead for over 48 years, and his teammates are long gone, which is a complication, to be sure. But I’m sure the Mariners could round up some family members. Highlight: Morris’s great-great grandchildren throwing out the ceremonial first puck.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Seattle-born and bred Hendrix was a rock and roll icon, and his band headlined at Woodstock during their brief but frenetic run as one of the world’s leading rock groups. Of course, Hendrix himself died in 1970, and two of the three other members are dead. But The Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Billy Cox is still around, performing with the Experience Hendrix, a touring Jimi tribute band. Highlight: The guitar version of the National Anthem, of course.
Mariner left-fielders. There have been more than 200 of them over the years as the Mariners strive, mostly futilely, to get this problem area fixed. What a stirring moment it would be to have them all line up along the third-base line — and down the left-field line, and along the warning track, and maybe back down the right-field line. Highlight: Eric Byrnes taking a ceremonial lap around the field on his beach-cruiser bicycle.
The cast of “Almost Live.” This beloved sketch-comedy series ran from 1984 to 1999, and old shows can still be seen after Saturday Night Live on KING TV. Besides the two hosts, Ross Shafer and John Keister, the show included cast members like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Joel McHale, Pat Cashman and Nancy Guppy. Instead of a pre-game ceremony, just give them a stage and a mike and let them riff. Highlight: The High Five’n White Guys can give current Mariners tips on celebrating their rare victories.
The 100-loss Mariner teams. It was a no-brainer to honor the 2001 Mariners, and the 1995 M’s have received plenty of recognition. But these poor schlubs never get any love. Let’s go outside the box and bring back the 1978 (56-104), 1980 (59-103), 1983 (60-102), 2008 (61-101) and 2010 (61-101) clubs back to take a long-overdue bow. On second thought, they already did bring back much of the 2010 club. It’s called the 2011 club. Highlight: Maury Wills demonstrating how he tried to alter the batter’s box, only to get busted by Oakland manager Billy Martin.
The 1997 Seattle SeaDogs. Hey, we don’t have many titles to celebrate in these parts, and the ‘Dogs of ’97 were the champs of the Continental Indoor Soccer League — which disbanded shortly thereafter. As I’m sure you all remember, the SeaDogs beat the always-tough Houston HotShots in the finals. To make it a night to truly remember, the M’s can also bring back Preki and the rest of the beloved Tacoma Stars from another defunct league, the MISL (Major Indoor Soccer League). That includes, of course, Steve Zungul, who had the best nickname ever: The Lord of All Indoors. Highlight: A standing O for goalkeeper Juan de la O.
The Rainier Running Beer Bottles. One of the most innovative and well-remembered ad campaigns in Seattle history from the late 1970s and early 1980s, it would be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser to reunite the old gang and put them in costume for one last run. Highlight: Safeco sells only Rainier that night, and at 1979 prices.
Now that’s a promotion everyone can get behind.