The sellout crowd at Safeco Field cheered wildly for Robinson Cano. It roared its appreciation for Felix Hernandez. But when members of the Seattle Seahawks were introduced before the game, well, they went positively “12.”
It certainly was the loudest cheer of the pregame activities.
The Mariners honored the Seahawks and their championship achievements before the home opener Tuesday. And while the Super Bowl champs couldn’t steal the show before the game started, their popularity was on full display.
The group of Seahawks featured head coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, linebacker Malcolm Smith (the MVP of the Super Bowl), wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, tight end Zach Miller and linebackers Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mike Morgan. And, of course, the Lombardi Trophy.
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“I think this will be a lot of fun,” said Kearse, who grew up in Lakewood. “I’ve been watching the Mariners for a long time since the days of Griffey and A-Rod. Just to be able to come out here and celebrate with these guys and be a part of opening day will be fun.”
Among several new Robinson Cano jerseys and plenty of Ken Griffey Jr. throwback jerseys in the crowd were more than a few Seahawks jerseys. Chants of “Sea … Hawks!” echoed through Safeco.
Was it really that long ago when the Mariners ruled the city? Well, yes, it was. It’s been more than a decade since the magical 116-win season in 2001. And next year it will be the 20-year anniversary of the 1995 season and Edgar Martinez’s double that scored Griffey from first to beat the Yankees and send the Mariners to the AL Championship Series.
But the Mariners weren’t angry or ashamed at sharing the spotlight with the Seahawks’ success during their home opener.
“I’m a big fan,” said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. “I had the opportunity to go out to a practice and conversate with Coach (Carroll). I thought that was outstanding. I love the energy and I love what they are doing. Hopefully that will rub off on us. I know everyone around here is excited, and rightfully so, as well as we are. We are all big fans as well.”
There is no jealousy from Mariners players.
“Just to see them win, see what they did for the city, see what they did for the fans, not only for them but for the sports teams around them — the Sounders, the Mariners — we were talking about it in spring training that we are kind of feeding off their energy,” said Michael Saunders.
Wilson threw out the first pitch.
It wasn’t quite as accurate as one of his passes. It was a little high to Felix Hernandez, who served as his catcher.
The Mariners’ ace greeted Wilson, Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks with hugs on the mound and posed for pictures.
The first pitch wasn’t the only baseball Wilson has thrown this spring. He threw out the first pitch at a Rangers game on April 2 in Arlington.
Wilson was drafted in the Class AA portion of Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 draft this offseason and even suited up for a workout with Texas this spring, taking ground balls.
In the stands, a Mariners fan held up a sign that said, “Why not us?” — the mantra adopted by the Seahawks in the postseason.
• Hisashi Iwakuma, who is recovering from a strained tendon in his middle finger of his throwing hand, will throw his first bullpen session of the season Wednesday. McClendon said it will be 30 pitches, all fastballs.
• Taijuan Walker’s recovery from shoulder bursitis this spring will take him back to Class AA Jackson for a start in the next few days. Walker started Friday night for Class A High Desert.