As time seems to be coming to an end of Felix Hernandez in Seattle with one more start on Thursday, September 26 against the Oakland A’s, I am sure every Mariner fan has fond memories of the pitcher we call “The King.”
His career in Seattle began on August 4, 2005, at the ripe old age of 19. He made his first start that day against the Tigers in Detroit, losing 3-1. Many times he lost with that score or less. A few years ago I counted at least 50 losses he had where the Mariners scored fewer than three runs and he had given up no more than three and losing.
Right now, Felix’s career record going into his final start in Seattle is 169-135. Had Felix not lost so many games when the Mariners offense couldn’t score for him his record would be close to 200 wins and losses closer to 100. Those would be Hall-of-Fame numbers for sure.
The last three years with injuries and production going down hasn’t helped his cause either; however, here in Seattle, he will always be remembered as the King who stayed instead of going to New York or some other destination as a free agent.
On August 15, 2012, just over seven years after making his major league debut, King Felix pitched a perfect game at Safeco Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. I was at work that day, and when I was on the phone, a fellow employee told me Felix was pitching a no-hitter. He didn’t bother to tell me it was a perfect game as well.
When I took my last break of the day, I asked anyone if the game had ended in a no-hitter. Someone told me he had pitched the perfect game. It was hard to believe but I knew the King deserved it.
I was at spring the next year and saw Felix on one of the practice fields. He was with a few other pitchers taking bunting practice. One of the balls went over the fence right by where I was staying watching Felix. A young kid, accompanied by his father, was close to me so I let him have the ball and Felix was more than happy to sign it for the kid.
Right after that, he was ready to move on to another field. I had a ball of my own which I could have had Felix sign but there was a lady next to me who had been to his perfect game wanting to have her ticket signed. We then waved goodbye to Felix.
That was he only time I ever got that close to Felix, seeing him face to face, having some fun while getting ready for the season.
I went to six games during that spring training, and the Mariners won each one. When I told friends they said the Mariners should have given me season tickets. If they had maybe they would have gone to the playoffs instead.
We all know now the final memories of Felix will be sad for the most part. We hope he can pitch well on Thursday and go out victoriously. Thank you King Felix, the best to you for the future. We appreciate your willingness to stay in Seattle.