Sitting in the press box at Tropicana Field this afternoon about 3 o’clock, several of us writers heard some noise coming from the catwalk high atop the ballpark. And I mean, high. It soon became evident there were some people up there — and with the aid of binoculars, it was soon realized that those people were Mariners. Specifically, relievers Charlie Furbush, Tom Wilhelmsen, Lucas Luetge, and Steve Delabar, along with outfielder Casper Wells. I snapped the picture above — I’m pretty sure it’s Furbush.
The Mariners have some problems to deal with this year, but acrophobia is apparently not one of them. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, who has covered the team since its inception in 1998, said he’s never seen any visiting players up there. When that was relayed to Wilhelmsen, he said, “We think outside the box in Seattle.”
Furbush added, “Call us the Catwalkers.”
The Catwalkers stayed up there about 15 minutes, walking around a bit, signing a dusty wall where those intrepid enough to go up there get to immortalize their achievement (or at least until the dust is wiped away), and taking a few pictures. Furbush agreed to e-mail me one of his pictures, which I present here. Photo credit: Charlie Furbush, left-handed pitcher. Pretty neat picture.
Everyone agreed it was a thrilling experience. Delabar said they contemplated dropping some baseballs and trying to see who could hit the star in center field, but they didn’t have any balls with them. At one point, a player, believed to be Wells (who denied it, but not very convincingly), yelled in a fake tremulous voice, “Get me out of here!”
Said Wells of the excursion: “it was just kind of spontaneous. I went with the crowd. I guess if they said do you want to jump off a bridge, I’d do that too. I’ll just do whatever everyone else is doing. It was fun, I didn’t know it would be that intense. As we were going up, I said, OK, this is up there. There’s not much between me and the ground. My legs were a little jello-y. It felt like I was in my first big-league at-bat again. It was good. Got me prepared for the game.”
The route to the catwalk, which the players were told is 420 up in the air, is via elevator, followed by a circuitious route of stairs and ladders. The catwalk they went to is called the “A” ring, the highest, and smallest, of the three co-centric rings above the field.
“I think it was more nerveracking going down than going up,” Wilhelmsen said.
Delabar noted it was very hot up there, to which Wilhelmsen said, “Heat must rise. Hear that, kids: Heat rises. It’s a science project.”
“It was fun,” he added. “I heard we could get up there last year when we were here. So I’ve been wanting to do it for a year. Now we have to go up to Toronto and do that one. I hear that one is a little taller.”
Furbush said that when they signed their names in dust, they thought they saw John Elway’s name.
“Luetge said it looked like a J and an E, so we went with it,” he said. “It was.kind of like, I wouldn’t say exactly the same, as signing inside the wall at Fenway Park.”
Said Furbush: “I’d definitely go up again. But you get up there, and you have to climb this tiny little ladder to get on the catwalk, and another stairs and another stairs and another stairs. You’re saying, ‘Oh, my God.’ Crazy. I can’t imagine working up there. Once we got up there, everyone realized how high we were. OK, that’s good. All I need to see; now let’s get out of here. It was cool, though. Really cool.”
Someone asked Furbush which of his teammates he’d most like to see up there. Chone Figgins was standing nearby, so Furbush said, “Figgins.”
Figgins shook his head. “No chance. No chance.”
My sentiments exactly.