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After the Pilots packed up and took off in 1970, Major League Baseball returned to the Emerald City just seven years later with the introduction of the Seattle Mariners. The expansion franchise struggled out of the gate at first, but by the mid-80s, things were starting to look up for the young club.
In 1984, first baseman Alvin Davis arrived and swatted 27 home runs and 116 RBI to garner Rookie of the Year accolades. However, it was the play of another youngster in 1989 that would capture the hearts of spectators throughout the country. Taking inspiration from a habit of turning his hat backwards during batting practice, baseball fans absolutely flipped for outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. , or "Junior" as he would later be called. Griffey homered in his first-ever big league at-bat and, in 1990, entered the record books when he and his father, Ken Griffey, Sr. , became the first father-son pair to play together. In his first 11 seasons with the club, "Junior" won 10 Gold Gloves, was named to 10 All-Star teams, and received seven Silver Sluggers.
Outfielder Jay Buhner and hurler Randy Johnson also began to emerge as stalwarts while Griffey's star continued to soar. In 1991, the team celebrated its first winning season, and four years later, they won the American League West for the first time. By this point, a slick-fielding 19-year-old shortstop named Alex Rodriguez had joined "Junior" as one of the game's best and brightest. "A-Rod" would lead the league in batting during his first full-season with the M's, and would go on to make four All-Star teams while a member of the club.
During the 1999 season, the team moved into a new home, Safeco Field. While the shift south would give the franchise the state-of-the-art stadium it deserved, it wasn't the only change whipping through the air in the Pacific Northwest. Cy Young winner Johnson was dealt for prospects in 1998, and by 2001, both "Junior" and "A-Rod" were suiting up for new teams. While this would be a crushing blow for most ball clubs, the Mariners charged forward with a one-name offensive powerhouse from Japan leading the way.
Ichiro Suzuki made a considerable splash upon his arrival in Major League Baseball. A veteran of the Japanese circuit, Ichiro was still considered a rookie by big league standards, which explains how he won both Rookie of the Year and league MVP honors in his first season. In 11 years with the club, Ichiro received 10 Gold Gloves, which matched nicely with his 10 straight All-Star appearances.
At Safeco Field, fans may not know who the next team catalyst is going to be, but that doesn't stop them from rising in the seventh inning to belt out "Louie, Louie" or trying to catch the attention of announcer Mike Blowers to receive a basket of Rally Fries. Just like they root for the Seahawks, train whistles and a fervent commitment are an essential part of being a supporter of the Mariners.