It’s opening-day time and that means your scribe will be attending two openings in the next two weeks, the Mariner debut at Safeco Field this Friday night and the opening of Emerald Downs thoroughbred race track in Auburn on April 15.
I know it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it and I raised my hand high.
Today the baseball; next week, the nags.
I was fortunate enough to be at the first Mariner opener in 1977 at the Kingdome, but there is nothing like opening day at Safeco and since the first game in 1999, some 33 million fans have passed through the gates.
Remember the first lineup at Safeco? David Bell led off and played second, David Segui was at first, Ken Griffey Jr. in center, Alex Rodriguez played shortstop and Edgar Martinez was the designated hitter. Jay Buhner was in right, Butch Huskey in left and Russ Davis was at third. Dan Wilson caught and Jamie Moyer pitched.
Quick now, who hit the first Mariner home run in Safeco? If you said Russ Davis, you win.
Dave Niehaus threw out the first pitch and his widow, Marilyn, gets the honor Friday night.
“Covering” the Mariners is not all fun and games, folks. For instance, if I want to get interviews, it must be done before or after batting practice and permission is needed from the publicity department. The M’s take batting practice three hours before a night game, so you have to be at the field early. A reporter cannot use a cell phone or camera in the clubhouse and asking for an autograph from a player is absolutely prohibited.
There are perks, of course. I get to sit in the press box, but it is a working area, not a VIP booth and cheering is really, really frowned upon.
The lower press box features seating for 120 working press and includes wireless Internet, phones, power and television monitors for replays and post-game interviews, if you don’t want to go to the clubhouse. The upper level press box has eight broadcast bays for home and visiting television and radio broadcasts and the Safeco Field booth for operating scoreboards, etc., is on this level.
I usually get a seat just to the right of home plate in the second row as the first row is reserved for media members who cover the team on a full-time basis.
One has to bring a coat, however, as the glass windows are rolled up like a garage door when the game starts and it can get quite cool.
Press box food? A full meal is offered for $8, with hot dogs, snacks, popcorn and cold drinks during the game.
So it will be off to Seattle on Friday morning and I will get to see the first two games as I have to get my Felix bobblehead and a large order of garlic fries is a must.
Reach Scooter Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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