“A DRIVE DEEP TO RIGHT FIELD. DOWN THE LINE. THE MARINERS WIN THIS GAME 2-1. THE DREAM LIVES. THEY’RE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS. THE DROUGHT IS OVER. CAL RALEIGH. WOW. HEY NOW. HEY NOW. HEY NOW.”
That was the call of the most notable and memorable moment of the Mariners 2022 season.
The season had several moments that will be remembered by fans for years to come, but one moment stands out from the rest and will be remembered for decades on decades. That moment was the swing from Cal Raleigh that sent them to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
On Sept. 30, 2022, and facing a 3-2 count against Athletics reliever Domingo Acevedo, Cal Raleigh pulled a low pitch down the right field line to walk off the A’s and clinched a Wild Card berth for the Mariners.
“I remember the moment when I knew it was fair and looking at the team and everybody’s jumping. It was just crazy,” Raleigh said.
Raleigh is one of the most beloved players on the Mariners, highlighted by his nickname “Big Dumper.” His nickname was given by teammate Jarred Kelenic, another fan favorite of many Mariners faithful. Big Dumper Drought Buster, indeed.
After the game, the same man who dawned him with the nickname praised the Big Dumper for his home run that ended the longest active playoff drought in professional sports at the time.
“This is what we dreamed about. This is why you play baseball. And for Cal to put a good swing on that ball and drive it out of the ballpark, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Kelenic said while celebrating (Paywall).
Not only was it a walk-off, but it was also the night after another walk-off, an electric weekend overall for Mariners fans everywhere. For me, it was a little bittersweet, as I was in attendance for the Sept. 29 game against the Rangers and saw that walk-off, but was unable to see the team clinch the postseason in person.
Still, seeing it unfold live on TV, it was a surreal moment to know that the Mariners were finally returning back to the postseason. Regardless of how their postseason would pan out, everyone knew this one swing would play in Mariners’ fans’ collective minds for decades to come.
It was also fantastic that it came from the Big Dumper himself, someone who over all of 2022 had a coming out party with a 122 OPS+ and 27 HR.
When thinking about the 2022 season, no matter how many years down the road, this will be the first thing that comes to mind for myself and so many other Mariners fans. It was the swing that sent the Mariners to the playoffs, and it was an electric moment.
Not every season will have a historic moment, but luckily, 2022 was the year the playoff drought was finally broken. Not only was it broken, but it was broken in such a way that in 50 years I will remember exactly where I was and how I watched it happen.