On April 27th, 1995, the Mariners took on the Detroit Tigers following a players strike which canceled the end of the 1994 season (along with the 1994 World Series) and delayed the start of Opening Day 1995 until late April. Ironically, if the season were to start on time this year, Seattle would once again host the Detroit Tigers on opening day following a labor dispute. This would be the first time that has happened since 1995 when they played the Tigers for the opener.
The 1995 Mariners came into the season with an 18-year playoff drought and the 2022 Mariners come into this season with a 20-year playoff drought. The Mariners would end their postseason drought in 1995 with a magical season that fans hoped would never end.
Here is how that 1995 season started for those Magical Seattle Mariners
When the Mariners opened their season after an acrimonious labor strike, there was also a dark cloud hanging over the beginning of the season. Not just because of how the bad the labor strike had been for the sport, but due to the fact the Mariners future in Seattle was in jeopardy.
The Kingdome was falling apart and there was little interest among local leaders or the public, to publicly finance a new stadium. The team had done little to excite the fan base in their 18 years of existence, as they had existed in mediocrity up until that season.
However, the start of the new season offered the Mariners the chance to start fresh, as it does every spring. Randy Johnson would take the ball in the first game of the season in front of a raucous opening day crowd of 34,656 fans. Johnson picked up right where he left off following his second all-star campaign in 1994, as he shut down the Tigers hitters. Throwing six innings of shutout ball, giving up just three hits and two walks, while striking out eight.
The game was a pitcher’s duel between Johnson and Detroit starter Sean Bergman until an error by Chris Gomez in the fifth inning. This led to a three-run blast from Ken Griffey Jr., for his first home run of the year, giving the Mariners a 3-0 lead.
Griffey’s dinger would turn out to be all the offense they would need with their ace on the mound, along with superb performances by Bill Risley and Bobby Ayala out of the bullpen. Randy Johnson would notch his first win of the season and Ayala collected his first save of the year. The Mariners would go on to win the series over the Tigers 3-1, while starting off the season strong, by winning six of their first seven games.
Opening Day 1995 served as the beginning of a new era of Mariners baseball, as they would carry the momentum from their strong start to an epic end of the season run, which ended 19 years of frustration. This team needed every win to end the postseason drought, which adds more significance to this win on Opening Day 1995.
Hopefully, the 2022 Mariners can do the same and end this playoff drought. Things are looking bright in Seattle… we just need baseball to come back.