[Ed. note: Please welcome Zach Milkis, who currently lives in California but should be sojourning northward sometime this year, if he knows what’s good for him. Zach has produced content for Shmoop, Cliff Notes’ sexy, liberal arts-college-educated cousin, and is such a good writer it totally doesn’t make me want to chew my own hands off. Welcome, Zach!]
Back in 2002, I celebrated my birthday at Safeco Field on Edgar Martinez replica bat night.
It now seems ill advised to let a bunch of 5th graders hyped up on Mountain Dew Code Red wave around 32 ounces of compact lumber in a public space, but as far as I remember, nobody was injured.
Fortunately, the Mariners have released their promotional schedule for 2017, and my 10 year old self would be thrilled to know that the Gar swag is back. Edgar’s number will be retired on Saturday, August 12th, but the festivities will last the whole weekend. Promotions include Edgar bobbleheads (Friday), replica numbers in honor of his number retirement ceremony (Saturday), replica jerseys (Sunday), and beating the tar out of the Angels (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
All these great Gar giveaways got us at Lookout Landing feeling nostalgic. So we thought it seemed like an opportune time to dig up a few of our favorite classic Mariners promotions – some that hit, some that missed, and some that bobbled.
Oh, how they bobbled.
Guys and Dolls (in Dolls)
You can’t go wrong with a great bobblehead. It’s hard to put into words. There’s just something in the way their head, you know, bobbles.
Even better than a bobblehead doll is a nesting doll, and the Mariners did that too, for none other than everyone’s favorite DH, Edgar Martinez.
And even better than an Edgar Martinez nesting doll is an Edgar Martinez rubber ducky, because why the heck not.
Barry White Night, 2000
This surely goes down as one of the most bizarrely awesome moments in Mariners history. On August 26th, 2000, the legendary R&B
singer talker with a voice smoother than Jay Buhner’s head announced the starting lineup over the PA, while fans got to take home one of his albums. If only Tuffy Gosewisch was on the roster then.
The “Smoakamotive” and “Ack Attack Express”
While the Mariners Train Car night has had a long and storied history beginning with the “Mariners Express” in 2000 and making prominent stops along the way for the 2002 “Gar Car” and 2005 “Moose Caboose,” the train was all but completely derailed in 2012 with the “Smoakamotive.”
Of course then 2015 brought us “The Ack Attack Express” which, considering the fact that Dustin Ackley was to be traded the following month, makes it arguably worse.
All of this information leads us to believe that the Mariners Train Car series is cursed. (However the fact that the Mariners promotional staff missed their window on the “LoMocamotive” is criminal.)
Mariners “Turn Ahead the Clock” Night, 1998
The year was 1998, and current Mariners VP of Marketing Kevin Martinez – after staring at a digital alarm clock for 12 hours (probably) – hatched a plan. Tired of all those pesky “turn back the clock” promotions, Martinez decided he wasn’t going to play by anyone’s rules anymore, and turn the clock in an entirely different direction.
The result was chaotic, garish, and surreal – but surprisingly fun.
On July 18th,
1998 2027, the Mariners played the Royals in the Kingdome (temporarily renamed the Biodome for the night), and the rest was history. Or future history. Or something.
Starting with a ceremonial first pitch thrown by a robot built at the University of Washington, and an official opening pitch by actor James Doohan, A.K.A. Scotty from Star Trek, who made his entrance to the mound in a DeLorean, “Turn Ahead the Clock” night was singular from the start.
The Mariners played the first 2 innings with their hats on backwards and their shirts untucked, and the fun didn’t stop until they had won 8-5. (Be sure to take a look at Paul Lukas’s excellent article for ESPN which provides a more compressive and refined assessment as to how completely bonkers that night was.)
Junior was apparently pretty instrumental in the promotion’s success, helping design the uniforms, cutting the sleeves off all his teammates’ uniforms, getting teammates (and umpires) on board, spray painting all his teammates’ cleats silver, spray painting his own glove silver, and making the most incredible catch I’ve ever seen anyone make while dressed like a space clown.
All in all, the promotion was a huge hit, but prompted a whole futuristic series in 1999 adopted by much of the rest of the league, which summarily crashed and burned in a maelstrom of corporate kitsch. We’re fine with that.
“Buhner Buzz Cut”
From 1994-2001, the “Buhner Buzz” was a Mariner institution. Once a season, fans could receive free tickets in exchange for getting their heads shaved before the game outside the stadium. Of course, there are few who can pull off bald like the Bone.
Fittingly, Jay Buhner will return to bobblehead form on May 20th vs. the White Sox – but not before Ichiro Dual Bobblehead Day goes down on April 19th, when #51 returns to Seattle for the first time since 2014.
Old favorites like the beard hat, Mariners fedora, and more Hishashi Iwakuma bear-aphernalia will return in 2017, along with other highlights like Griffey Replica Hall of Fame Statue, “I Club NY” t-shirt, (which I have to admit I am truly tickled by), and for July 4th, Mariners Patriotic Cowboy Hat Day.
Let us know in the comments if we missed any extra memorable promotions, past, present, and future. Until then, you can find us holding a competition to see which bobblehead reigns supreme.