The outlook is brilliant for the Seattle nine this day. This year! This year our heroes will triumph. They will defeat the evil San Francisco Giants.

But the players won’t be the only heroes at Thursday’s season opener, the first fan-attended one in two years. The Mariners and Major League Baseball want all fans to join them in celebrating other heroes who have stepped to the fore during this pandemic year.

Doctors, nurses and other health care workers have toiled to keep people safe, healthy and alive. They risked their own lives treating patients who carried the coronavirus, never hesitating to serve.

In the early days of the pandemic, Puget Sound communities rang with the public’s joyful evening noise in appreciation of front-line workers, but that practice soon faded. It returns tonight, with a smaller crowd under state pandemic rules.

The chief pediatric resident from Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr. Jonathan Awori, will perform the national anthem before the Mariners game. Dozens of doctors will appear on video. Karen Dykes, clinical infectious disease specialist at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Meanwhile, the Mariners are partnering with UW Medicine to make COVID-19 vaccines available in underserved communities. The team is contributing $2 million to the partnership, and some current and former players, coaches and broadcasters are participating in a public awareness campaign to encourage vaccinations.

Advertising

At the start of every baseball season, reflecting on the canonical baseball poem “Casey at the Bat” is a worthy custom. It’s a cautionary tale against hero worship and those heroes’ arrogance. But there’s a subtler lesson in the poem: Don’t overlook the quiet heroes who excel without demanding accolades.

Remember, Flynn legged out a single, and Jimmy Blake crushed a double to give Casey a chance. Surely the pitcher who struck out mighty Casey was a hero to his unnamed team and fans.

So Thursday night, from those 9,000 throats at T-Mobile Park — and many more beyond — let there rise a lusty yell, undampened by their masks. It will rumble through the valley; it will rattle in the dell. It will pound on Mount Rainier; it will recoil upon Puget Sound. It will cheer for health care workers, wherever they are found.

Play ball!