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José Godoy, baseball history and the Mariners: A choose-your-own-recap escapade

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A little something for everyone, for a game that gave us little.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at San Diego Padres
No more Samuel Beckett jokes, please.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome to Lookout Landing! For tonight’s recap, we felt that you, our loyal readers, deserved some options to choose from. Simply peruse the choices below, and scroll down to your preferred type of content to read.

  • A: Mushy history
  • B: Pedantic history
  • C: Baseball who?
  • D: An actual game recap

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A) So you want to talk history...

Tonight, José Godoy became the 20,000th player to make his Major League Baseball debut. This game of ours is remarkable, isn’t it? More than 150 years of professional baseball, and we’re only just topping out at 20k. It feels fitting that Godoy, this milestone man, was a bit of a minor league journeyman who signed as an international free agent from Venezuela back in 2011 at age 16. He toiled in pro ball for nearly a decade, his position as catcher likely helping to extend his career. There’s always a need for a catcher, somewhere. But even if he makes just a few more plate appearances, he will forever be part of an elite fraction of humanity throughout history.

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B) So you want to talk semantics...

If Godoy was the 20,000th, who was the first you wonder? Well, it depends. If you, like the Cespedes BBQ boys, prefer to go by Baseball-Reference, the first player was Deacon White. White, a belated Hall of Fame elect in 2013, played in what is now recognized as the first game in major league history on May 4, 1871 between the Cleveland Forest Citys and the Fort Wayne Kekiongas. The Kekiongas came out on top but White, hitting leadoff and playing for the Forest Citys, sealed his place in history by crushing a double in his first at-bat for the first hit in major league baseball.

That midwest matchup is recognized as the first major league game because it was the first game in the National Association, considered to be the first professional baseball league. Its strongest members would ultimately break off and start the National League.

Technically speaking, the first professional baseball player was Harry Wright, a fellow Hall of Famer and native Brit, who became the first “openly paid” ballplayer in the game’s history in 1869. Wright, the former cricket pro, made no efforts to hide that the Cincinnati Base Ball Club was paying him to play what had, to that point, been a strictly gentlemanly game. By virtue of being paid, those Red Stockings are recognized as the first professional baseball team (you may recall the Reds wore 150th anniversary patches a few years ago in celebration), though history is a fickle and often white-centered thing.

Really, it comes down to a lot of very specific details and some real persnickety word choices about how you define “first,” “professional,” and “major league.”

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C) So you want to forget about the temporary futility of this season...

The year is 2100. Our granddaughter and great-granddaughter have come to visit us in our assisted-living home, each of them pushing a wheelchair down the hallway and into one of the common areas overlooking the Sound.

They talk back and forth to us and each other, filling us in on their lives, their news, and anything else that may pop into their heads. It’s all pretty one-sided, but we love them for it.

As our great-granddaughter details their adventures of the past weekend, a television screen projects from one half of a nearby holographic wall and a person stands across from it, idly swiping through channels before settling on an old Jeopardy! rerun.

“This man became the 20,000th player in history to make his MLB debut back in 2021...”

I creakily turn to the man in the wheelchair beside me, feeling the wrinkles in my neck fold within themselves, and part my lips into a dry smile. His rheumy hazel eyes crinkle, nearly disappearing into the whispy white caterpillars of his brows.

Godoy, he mouths to me, as our family chatters on beside us.

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D) So you want to talk 2021 Mariners baseball...

Nah

(They lost to the Padres 16-1)