On this edition of Mariners Throwback Thursday, I want to look back at the man affectionately known around the northwest as simply “Bone.” Jay Buhner joined the Mariners in a trade from the New York Yankees in 1988 that sent 1B Ken Phelps to New York in exchange for Buhner, who was at the time, a top prospect in the Yankees organization.
I was in Little League during Buhner’s heyday with the Mariners. When I was a kid, everyone knew that the smallest, slowest, and least athletic kids got sent to the outfield, because nobody at the 6-8 year-old level was hitting it past the infield on a consistent basis.
Around the same time Buhner was leading the Mariners outfield, I was picking daisies in right field while my team full of 8-year olds won our town’s “World Series.” I wasn’t all that into the games because I was small, couldn’t hit, and only ever played the last two innings of each game because the coach had to make sure everyone got at least one at-bat.
At the time, I subscribed to the “outfield is useless and lame, why am I even out here?” train of thought. However, as my interest in the Mariners started to take off, I noticed something about the players in the outfield: they were cool. Especially that guy they call “Bone.”
From that point on, my mentality around playing in the outfield totally shifted. I busted out the stunna shades for day games and sang “Bad to the Bone” in my head as I waited for my moment to make a big play.
While his walk-up song is one of the most memorable things about him for me, he did plenty on the field to back up his biker-dude swagger. As (essentially) a life-long Mariner, Bone holds a special place in the hearts of Mariners fans. Let’s take a look at a few of the most memorable plays from Buhner’s career in a Mariners uniform.
Jay Buhner Becomes the First Mariners player to Hit for the Cycle
In 1993, Jay Buhner was just beginning to warm up. He had pieced together a couple of solid seasons during his first two years as the everyday right fielder, but ’93 saw him take a significant step forward in nearly every statistical category. So what better way to encompass his breakout season than with the first cycle in Mariners history? You know it’s going to be a good day when you start it off with a grand salami…
Jay Buhner: 2-Homer Game in 1995 ALCS for the Mariners
1995 was a special season for so many reasons. If you read these articles, you probably know why. The season that saved baseball in Seattle. While the most memorable moment of that season was undoubtedly the walk-off in the ALDS against the Yankees (oof, goosebumps), Buhner did all he could to keep the Mariners hopes alive in the ALCS with his two home runs, including the go-ahead 3-run shot in Game 3 against the Indians.
Jay Buhner: A bomb in His Last Series with the Mariners (2001 ALCS)
While the season didn’t end how the team had hoped, Buhner did his part in the 4-1 ALCS series loss to the Yanks, including this batters-eye blast during the M’s lone win of the series.
Bone would retire after the 2001 season at the age of 37, but not without leaving a gigantic hole in the hearts of Mariners fans like myself. His leadership and big bat played a huge part in the successful seasons that the Mariners had between ’95 and ’01, and his impact on Seattle sports will never be forgotten.