Safeco Field will once again be the site of something special this summer when the Mariners retire Edgar Martínez’s number. Like 24, the only time you will see 11 again at Safeco Field is on the backs of fans—and, of course, standing in the Mariners dugout.
Team president Kevin Mather announced the number retirement in a press conference at Safeco today, saying the organization made the decision—one they had been having conversations about—after the HOF vote totals were released and Edgar had jumped to almost 59%.
Dressed in a dapper gray-on-gray-on-gray combination with a gray pocket square (it was sharper than it sounds), Edgar spoke glowingly of his time in Seattle, thanking first the Mariners organization, and next his family for making the sacrifices that come with a baseball life. He also thanked his coaches, specifically Lou Piniella, and his teammates, especially Jay Buhner, Randy Johnson, and of course, Ken Griffey Jr. Finally, Edgar thanked “the best fans in baseball” for their support, and for “welcoming me to this city.” (I lied—finally finally he thanked the members of the press for being present at the conference, because Edgar is a class act like that.)
Edgar said he was surprised when the team told him of the jersey retirement, since according to the team by-laws:
[T]o be eligible to have one's number retired. . .the former Mariners should have either a) been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and been in a Mariner's uniform for at least five years, or b) come close to such election and have spent substantially his entire career with the Mariners.
[Woof. The wording up there is rough. Dear Mariners, if you would like someone to edit your website copy, I am your huckleberry.]
According to Mather, however, the team is confident “Edgar will be elected to the Hall of Fame.” No ifs allowed. The move to retire Edgar’s number strikes me as sort of a power play; a signal from the organization that it’s time for the BBWAA to get its act together and recognize what those of us in the Northwest have known for years: that Edgar Martínez absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame. For his part, Martínez called it “a very generous act,” and said that the honor of having his number hang next to Junior’s and Jackie’s will remind him every day of how lucky he is to have played this game.
When asked how long he’d continue to actively wear #11, Edgar smiled and called his job “enjoyable” thanks to the Mariners’ core. “That makes it easy for me to stick around and look for that World Series,” he said. (He also said that he chose 11, not for any particular reason, but because it looked the nicest of the available options. Love them parallel lines.)
The jersey retirement ceremony will occur on Saturday, August 12, 2017 as part of a larger Edgar weekend. Maybe my Light Bat Nightlight promotion dream lives on!