Sketched April 8, 2013 [Click on the sketches to see them larger]
On Monday, I had the opportunity to make some behind-the-scenes sketches during opening day at Safeco Field.
My 9-year-old son, who loves all things sports, was filled with envy. “You are so lucky! Can I go with you?”
But media passes don’t come with extra seats for the family, so he had to watch from home as I did my work at the ballpark.
Before the game started, I stood alongside photographers on the field and sketched the players while they warmed up and gave interviews in the dugout. “I’m a little more muscular in the shoulders,” outfielder Michael Saunders informed me after checking out my sketch.
In the press box, I joined more than 100 journalists documenting the game. They typed furiously on their laptops as I concentrated on drawing the panoramic view of the stadium and its massive new video screen.
The serious atmosphere inside the room contrasted with the cheers of fans in the stands. That’s where the real fun is, I thought. And next time I’m at Safeco, that’s where I’ll enjoy the game with my son.
Three hours before the game started, the stands were still empty but the field was abuzz with activity. Players were stretching, throwing balls and taking batting practice at a batting cage mounted on home plate.
All the players seemed very relaxed — just look at Saunders wearing slides in the dugout while conducting a radio interview with 710 ESPN Seattle. But I’m sure they were under a lot of pressure to perform in front of more than 40,000 fans.
It was fun to notice the old-fashioned phones labeled “bullpen” and “pressroom” in the dugout.
Moose isn’t free to roam around the ballpark as I thought. “He has a busy schedule,” said Ashley Petersen, the “navigator” assigned to him for this game. After posing for photos with a few fans, he ran to meet 11-year-old Make-A-Wish recipient Marlee of Sammamish. Marlee, a liver-transplant survivor, ran the bases in honor of all children with life-threatening conditions. She was a hit!
Although I’m getting better at knowing who is who in the Mariners team, I was quite lost trying to recognize everybody. I’m embarrassed to admit that I asked Saunders for his first and last name before realizing who he was. I was also at a loss with slugger Michael Morse, who was instantly surrounded by reporters when his interview started.
I did recognize catcher Jesus Montero, since my family always talks about him. He was inside the batting cage when I did this sketch. Manager Eric Wedge and bench coach Robby Thompson were overseeing the practice.