After a Reddit post that included a photo of tickets to his first Mariners game — in 1998 with his now-deceased father — Steve Merriam received an outpouring of sympathetic responses, and an offer of game tickets from the Mariners. “It meant a lot to me,” Merriam said.
If you think internet forums are just havens for trolls and vile comments, maybe this will change your mind. Maybe you’ll see that kindness can emerge from the unlikeliest of places.
Steve Merriam is a 23-year-old New Jersey native whose father Jim died a few months ago. The two were close, and sports seemed to be the linchpin of their relationship.
Every Saturday throughout Steve’s childhood, the pair would play anything from basketball, to football, to baseball to tennis — always grabbing a bagel and cup of hot cocoa afterward.
But perhaps Steve’s favorite memory with pops — even if most of that memory is fuzzy — came when Jim took him to a Mariners game on Aug. 22, 1998.
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Like most kids at the time, Steve had become quite fond of Ken Griffey Jr. So even though it was on the other side of the country, Jim decided his boy’s first big-league game would be at the Kingdome.
It was quite a gesture, and Junior did his best to entertain by going 2 for 4 with two walks. But it was Edgar Martinez’s walk-off single in the 11th that Steve still remembers today.
For the next 19 years or so, the Mariners were Steve’s second-favorite team behind the nearby Mets, who were far easier to follow at the time. That changed over the weekend, though.
On Saturday, Steve received a package from his late father’s sisters. Turns out that Jim had saved the tickets from that day, which featured Edgar on the front.
Thrilled, Steve posted a picture of the tickets on Reddit and explained how much they meant to him. Redditors loved it, giving his post a whopping score of 26.7K.
For the next 18 hours, comments flooded in. Some expressed sympathy toward Steve for losing his father, while others recalled their own baseball memories with deceased loved ones.
Then came Steve’s favorite response of all. It was from the Mariners.
“We’re a little late, but our deepest condolences. Those are some classic stubs — Edgar on the tickets AND walk-off Edgar Martinez knock to win it. How does another game in 2018 sound? Maybe August 22nd vs. the Astros? We can’t promise another ’Gar walk-off, but let’s make it another win.”
Steve was shocked. A few Redditors told him the Mariners — who have a reputation for reaching out — might contact him after he posted, but he didn’t believe them. That certainly wasn’t his intent when he shared the pictures.
But then came the message — four tickets on the 20th anniversary of Steve’s first game with his father.
“You can’t really have anything more special than that. It meant a lot to me,” said Steve, who said the Mariners have permanently replaced the Mets as his favorite baseball team. “That was the thing for me and my dad — sports. And this was the first sporting event he ever took me to. Seeing my favorite player in that stadium was a special feeling. To go back on the 20th anniversary of that — honestly, it makes me feel closer to my dad.”
Jim was only 62 when he passed. Steve said he had shown early signs of dementia and died due to medication that didn’t mix. Needless to say, the past few months have been rough for Steve, but the Mariners’ generosity has been a hint of blue in a cloudy sky.
Well, that and his girlfriend, Amanda Vassaur, and their month-and-half old daughter, Luna.
Steve plans to bring Amanda and their little girl to Safeco Field in August. He wants first-games-in-Seattle to become family tradition. Plus, because he lives in Southern California now, he said this will be the first step toward preventing Luna from becoming a Dodgers fan.
Joining the trio will be Steve’s older sister and brother-in-law. Should be fun for all five.
I just hope the roof is open. Think there’s a sixth who wants to watch with them.