Back in 1995, the Seattle Mariners gave rise to one of the greatest “Cinderella” stories in recent baseball history.
On August 15th of that season, the Mariners were 12.5 games behind the first-place California Angels and in 3rd place (out of 4) in the AL West. Then, something incredible happened.
The Mariners went 8-7 through the rest of August, but California started to slide and the Mariners found themselves only 7.5 games back and in 2nd place.
As the calendar turned to September, the M’s won 13 of their next 19 games and moved into a tie for first with California on September 20th. Two nights later, the M’s moved into first by themselves and even built a three-game lead in the division.
A split of a two-game series against the Angels cut Seattle’s lead to two. Then the Texas Rangers took the final two games of the season-ending four game series to bring the M’s and Angels back to a tie for the division (78-66).
The one-game playoff in Seattle was a blowout and the Mariners were AL West champs and onto the playoffs for the first time in their history.
That season was extremely memorable for a lot of fans, but it held a special place in my heart.
Growing up in Oregon, I was a Mariners fan as a kid – by location only. I was first introduced to baseball in 1985 (at the age of 6) by my father’s aunt. She was watching an Atlanta Braves game on TBS. She told me how the guy who wore #3 – Dale Murphy – grew up down the street from them and how they were friends with his parents. (Murphy is from Portland, Oregon)
She told me how nice he was and how good of a ballplayer he was. So I started watching. I became a Braves fan. Problem was, they sucked.
In 1989, I attended my first Mariners game. They sucked too. But I saw Ken Griffey Jr for the first time – not even really grasping what I was seeing yet – as well as Cal Ripken Jr, Dave Valle, Alvin Davis and Omar Vizquel.
Watching the Mariners in that game – which they lost 4-3 to Baltimore – I fell in love. I loved the Kingdome – which amazed me as a 10-year old for how big it was inside, despite looking smaller outside.
I liked the old uniforms, and they were close enough to my home that I felt like they were my team. I justified it in my head – as a Braves fan – that I could like both. After all, one was an NL team and the other an AL team.
But those two loves almost collided in that 1995 season. The Mariners went on their amazing “Refuse To Lose” run and met up with the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. They flat out ran out of gas.
But before they lost the series to the Indians, the Atlanta Braves were wrapping up an NLCS sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. They were going to the World Series.
My father told me that if the Mariners beat the Indians, he would buy Word Series tickets when the Series shifted to Seattle. I was beside myself. Not only would I get to see my Braves for the first time in person, but also get to go to a World Series game with my two favorite teams pitted against each other.
Unfortunately, the M’s fell to the Indians. My consolation prize was that the Braves went on to win the Series, clinching their only World Title during their historic run of 14 straight division titles.
Now, with Interleague play, the two teams have now played each other several times, but nothing would have matched the intensity of a World Series between them.
But here we are again, flash forward almost 20 years. The Mariners are rapidly climbing the standings of the AL West, again chasing the Angles and needing to jump the Athletics as well.
But the M’s currently hold the 2nd Wild-Card position. The Braves are also fighting for a playoff spot, currently sitting eight games behind the Washington Nationals for the NL East and only one game out of the 2nd NL Wild-Card spot.
With the Mariners coming home for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, followed by three with the NL East-leading Nationals, I am hoping for some extra Mojo from the SoDo. A sweep of the Nats by the M’s would continue to push the M’s in the right direction and also help the Braves get towards their goal as well.
With any luck – possibly a lot of luck – perhaps we’ll get to see that Braves/Mariners World Series this year.
It may be putting the cart before the horse, but a guy can dream, right?
Tags: Seattle Mariners