On October 1st, I was sitting behind the first base line at T-Mobile Park amidst a sellout crowd for the first game of the Seattle Mariners’ final series of the season, with playoff hopes on the line. Directly in front of me, there sat a rather large, jovial, red-headed man, who mostly blocked my view of a heartbreaking 2-1 Mariners loss. Little did I know, the bubbly obstructor of my sight of the playing field was mid-2000’s Mariners legend Bucky Jacobsen.
Jacobsen was quite humble throughout the game; I chatted with him a few times about the bright future of the M’s, and I thought he was perhaps a local lumberjack. However, around the 6th inning, I overheard the gentleman to his right telling a posse of nearby kids (who were chopping it up with Jacobsen) that the man they were speaking with actually played for the Mariners once. They were blown away.
In 2004, Mariners fans were treated to 42 games of magic, when little-known prospect Bucky Jacobsen swatted a slew of home runs and inspired those who watched him that they can do anything they put their heart into.
Upon joining Bucky (and his friends) for a beverage after the game, he told me that the most meaningful part of his professional career was that those who witnessed his brief stint in the majors could think “Hey, if a heavy-set ginger dude from Oregon can make it to the big leagues, I bet I can do some pretty awesome stuff too.”
Bucky Jacobsen spent eight years in the minor leagues before finally receiving a call-up from the Mariners in 2004, with whom he signed a minor-league contract the most recent offseason after previous stints in the Cardinals and Brewers organizations. He made the most of his opportunity that season, pummeling 9 home runs and driving in 28 runs in just 42 games.
Mariners fans hoped Jacobsen was the next great unknown player-turned-sensation in Seattle, especially during an abysmal 2004 season for the M’s, but an increasingly crippling knee injury shelved him near the end of the season and he never returned to the major leagues.
Several players have had short tenures with the Mariners over the years, but no one has left the legacy that Bucky Jacobsen did; even now, as co-host of the “Chuck & Buck Show” on 950 AM radio in Seattle, Jacobsen is continuing to bring Mariners fans joy and inspiration.
It takes a pretty special person (let alone a Mariners legend) to show a random guy from Montana around Seattle after a ball game. It’s because of that gesture, not the mammoth home runs and clutch RBIs, that I’ll always remember Bucky Jacobsen.