1970-1976: After the Pilots, Seattle’s first Major League team was unable to stay afloat financially in Sicks’ Stadium, and moved to Milwaukee, plans began to bring the Majors back to Seattle began almost immediately. The first step was to have a building more suited for big time professional sports. Plans for a multi-purposed domed stadium were already in the early stages in the attempt to bring the NFL to the Pacific Northwest. While plans for a new stadium were coming together, Seattle filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball. The owners were afraid of the potential harm of a lawsuit so in 1973, they decided to promise Seattle a new team during the next expansion. However by 1975 it was looking as if the expansion team was a hollow promise, so Seattle tried to land a team in existence to move into the new Kingdome, which was to be completed in 1976. A group of owners were all stet to buy the Chicago White Sox and move to the Emerald City, but baseball refused to allow one of the American League’s charter franchises to leave the Windy City. Fearful of further lawsuits, and relocation threats baseball finally fulfilled their promise and gave Seattle, and Toronto expansion teams that would begin play in 1977.
1977: As the Mariners prepared for their inaugural season the city of Seattle threw a big parade to welcome back Major League Baseball to the Pacific Northwest. On April 6th the waiting finally ended as the Mariners took the field at the Kingdome in the first ever American League game played in a dome. Ironically former Seattle Pilot Diego Segui was the starting pitcher for the Mariners as 57,762 fans settled in for the birth of Mariners baseball. However, the fans would go home disappointed that first day, as the Mariners were walloped 7-0 by the California Angels. Losing would become a habit that first year as the Mariners finished with a woeful 64-98 record. However, thanks to a collapse from the Oakland A’s the Mariners were able to avoid finishing in last by half of game, and were nine and half games better then their expansion partner Toronto Blue Jays.
1978: With a team full of castoffs, and unproven players the Mariners continued to struggle and fell to last place with a 58-104 record in their second season.
1979: While the Mariners struggled again in their third season finishing in sixth place with a record of 67-95, the Pacific Northwest had their first taste of the baseball spotlight as they hosted the All-Star Game, which was the 50th game featuring the American League’s best going up against the best of the National League. The game would end up being one of the most exciting in All-Star history as the lead went back and forth. The game turned in the seventh inning when Boston Red Sox Jim Rice hit a fly ball that Pittsburgh Pirates Rightfielder Dave Parker lost in the lights, Rice seeing Parker’s troubles decided to try and stretch the hit into a triple. However, Parker recovered and nailed Rice at 3rd base to keep American League lead at one. The National League would then tie the game on New York Mets Lee Mazzilli homer that hit the Leftfield fair pole. In the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, New York Yankee Graig Nettles hit a single to right. However, All-Star MVP Parker made another great throw to Montreal Expos catcher Gary Carter who tagged California Angels Brian Downing, who tried to score from second base. The National League would then take the lead for good in the ninth inning as Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry walked Mazzilli with the bases loaded.
1980: In their fourth season the Mariners continued to tread water as they lost 103 games and finished dead last. However, more disturbing was the M’s continued to struggle at the gate, and drew less the one million fans to the Kingdome for the third year in a row. Fans and players were both dissatisfied with Kingdome, which had all the charm of a dungeon and certainly did not invite fans in who wanted to enjoy a sunny summer day, as the Dome’s concrete roof not only kept out the rain it kept out any light, and gave the stadium an antiseptic look that did not aid in attempts to draw fans. This all contributed to the doubt that Major League Baseball would ever be viable in Seattle.
1981: The good news for the Mariners was that they avoided losing 95 games for the first time in franchise history. However, the bad news was that if it not for a two month player’s strike they would likely reached that depth once again, as they posted an overall record of 44-65. However, what was more disturbing was that the M’s continued to struggle at the gate only averaging a crowd of 14,000 a game.
1982: In an attempt to help boost attendance the Mariners sign 43-year-old pitcher Gaylord Perry who only needs three more wins to collect his 300th career win. The move would payoff as 27,369 fans would show up to the Kingdome on May 6th to watch Perry collect win number 300 with a complete game 7-3 victory against the New York Yankees. That would not be the only positives for the Mariners that year as the team flirts with .500-mark, before finishing in fourth place with a 78-84 record. Helping to spur the M’s improvement was Floyd Bannister who led the American League in strikeouts, becoming the first Mariner to lead the league in a major category.
1983: In an attempt to be flashier the Mariners station a boat beyond the outfield wall called the USS Mariner. The boat would fire a cannon after ever home run and rock during dramatic moments. In addition the boat would have a tugboat partner that would bring relievers in from the bullpen. Despite the flashy new additions, the team would take a turn downward finishing in last place with a 60-102 record. The Mariners also angered their fans when they traded the popular Julio Cruz to the Chicago White Sox for Tony Bernazard, then Seattle fired Manager Lachemann on June 25th and replaced him with Del Crandall. On that same day let go of future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry and their starting shortstop Todd Cruz. This day would be become known as the Saturday Massacre. None of the moves worked as Seattle’s attendance continued to plummet as the M’s barely drew 10,000 a game.
1984: Mariners fans were finally able to have some hope for the future as Rookies Alvin Davis, and Mark Langston burst on to the scene. Davis who was called up a few days after opening day made an immediate impact getting a game winning RBI when he homered in his second at-bat, off of Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis Eckersley, after a month he was hitting .347 with 9 homers and 28 RBI’s. At the same time rookie pitcher Mark Langston was setting records. Seattle was beginning to look to build around these two players as a foundation for the future. Davis would go onto win the Rookie of the Year, and rewrite the M’s record book by hitting .284 with 27 home runs, 116 RBI’s, 97 base-on-balls, and collecting 161 hits. Meanwhile, Mark Langston finished second in Rookie of the Year voting also finished with an impressive season. His final record was 17-10 with a 3.40 ERA. In addition he led the American League in strikeouts with 204. However, with their success the team still struggled to finish 74-88 in fifth place.
1985: While their expansion brother Toronto Blue Jays get their first taste of success, winning the American League East, the Mariners continue to struggle finishing in sixth place with a 74-88 record.
1986: The Mariners sink to the bottom of the American League Western Division again with an awful 67-95 record. The lone bright spot was the strong year put up by Rookie Outfielder Danny Tartabull who hit 25 home runs, and drove in 96 runs. However, in a puzzling move after the season Tartabull would be traded away to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Scott Bankhead. The Mariners also found themselves on the wrong end of history, as Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens struck out a new single game record of 20 against the Mariners in Boston on April 29th.
1987: Finishing in last place in 1986 would payoff during the Baseball draft as the Mariners had the Number 1 pick and drafted a 17-year old named Ken Griffey Jr. While the M’s would have to wait for Junior to develop in the minors, the team began to show improvements. They would still finish below .500 with a 78-84 record, but it would get them into fourth place only seven games behind the eventual World Champion Minnesota Twins. Helping to spur the upswing was Mark Langston who established a new franchise record with 19 wins. Meanwhile, Alvin Davis had a his best year batting .295 with 171 hits, 37 doubles, 29 home runs, and 100 RBIs. In addition 2B Harold Reynolds would have a breakout season by ending Rickey Henderson’s eight year stranglehold on the American League Stolen Base crown. Mariners fans would get a glimpse of the future in September as 3B Edgar Martinez made his Major League Debut, with five doubles and a seven game hitting streak from September 14-20, while batting .372.
1988: While the Mariners sank to the bottom of the American League West again with a woeful 68-93 record, the Mariners continued to build for the future by acquiring a rookie slugger named Jay Buhner from the New York Yankees for Ken Phelps. Buhner would go on to become a fan favorite over the next decade in Seattle while Phelps only played parts of two seasons with Yankees.
1989: As a 19-year old non-roster invitee to spring training Ken Griffey Jr. was not expected to be ready for the Majors, but he impressed M’s brass so much in Spring Training that he not only made the team, but was also in Centerfield on Opening Day. Griffey doubled in his first At Bat on April 3rd, and would collect his first home run a week later in the Kingdome season opener, and would go on to hit .325 his first month. In early July he was leading all rookies with a .287 average, 13 home runs, 45 RBI and was considered a shoe-in for American League Rookie of the Year. However, he would then break a bone in the little finger on his left hand forcing him to miss the next six weeks. When Junior came back he batted only .214 with 3 homers and 16 RBI, because of this he lost out on the award. The club would also struggle during Jr.’s absence losing 16 of 25 games played, which ended all hopes of the franchise’s first winning season, as they finished in 6th place with a 73-89 record. Another sweeping change for the Mariners came on May 25th when the club dealt longtime ace Mark Langston to the Montreal Expos for three prospects. However, one of these prospects was 6’10” left Randy Johnson, who would make fans forget all about Langston with in a few years. In his first year with the Mariners “The Big Unit” would win seven games, while showing signs of his future dominance.
1990: Ken Griffey Jr. continued to develop into one of baseball’s best players, as he made the All-Star team for the 1st time in his career. Griffey would go on to hit .300 for the season while hitting 22 home runs, and driving in 80 runs. However, that was not what Griffey’s season would be remembered for. On August 29th the Mariners signed Ken Griffey Sr., who was winding down a stellar career. When the elder Griffey made his first appearance in a Mariners game on August 31st he was joined by his son, becoming the first Father and Son to play in the same Major League game. In their first game together each got singles in the their first at bats. Exactly two weeks later they would make even more history as they hit back to back homers in California off Kirk McCaskill of the Angels. The move which started out as gimmick would go on to have a positive impact as Senior Griffey put up good numbers, while providing leadership to the young Mariners, who finished in fifth place with a 77-85 record. The Griffeys were not the only ones making history, Randy Johnson in his first full year as a Mariner won 14 games, and pitched the first No Hitter in franchise history on June 2nd.
1991: For the first time in club history the Seattle Mariners finished the season above .500 taking home a modest 83-79 record. Ken Griffey Jr. was named to his second All-Star Game and brought home the club’s first Silver Slugger Award, hitting .327 with 22 home runs and 100 RBI. Despite the impressive year the Mariners decide to fire Manager Jim Lefebvre at the end of the season.
1992: Edgar Martinez joined Ken Griffey Jr. (who won the game’s MVP) as an All-Star and also earned a Silver Slugger Award and the first batting crown in Mariners’ history slapping out a .343 average. However, the Mariners would sink to the bottom again with a woeful 64-98 record. Among the disappointments was newly acquired Kevin Mitchell who only managed nine home runs. Another problem that interfered with Mariners chances was the continued instability in ownership. The Mariners would go on to change hands for the fourth time in their 16-year history. What would also become abundantly clear was that if the Mariners were to ever have long-term success in Seattle they would have to get a new ballpark. In other news the Mariners also made more news in proving baseball is a family game when Bret Boone, made his Major League Debut becoming the first third generation family in baseball history. Bret’s grandfather Ray played infield from 1948-1960, and his father Bob was a star catcher from 1972-1990.
1993: The Mariners would enter the season, with a new look, and a new fiery manager Lou Piniella. The Mariners who rebounded to finish in fourth place with an 82-80 record, were spurred on by their two superstars Ken Griffey Jr. (who hit .309 with 47 home runs, and 109 RBI), and Randy Johnson (who won 19 games while striking out 308). Junior Griffey made history by homering in eight straight games July 20th-28th tying the record held by Dale Long of the Pittsburgh Pirates (1956), and Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees (1987). However, it was not “The Big Unit” who delivered the best pitching performance. On April 22nd, pitcher Chris Bosio, in just his fourth start as a Mariner, walked the first two batters faced and then preceded to retire the next 27 for the club’s second no hitter.
1994: Not only was the season shortened by the August 12th player’s strike, but so was the Mariners home schedule. On July 19th, just three hours before game-time the first of four 15-pound Kingdome tiles fell to the ground. The game was postponed and the Mariners played the remainder of the season on the road. Playing on the road most of the season dropped the Mariners record below .500 to 49-63. However, because the rest of the newly reconstructed Western Division also struggled the Marin
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Page created on August 11, 2001. Last updated on June 24, 2018 at 11:50 pm ET.