clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Logan’s Loft and the joy of grassroots fandom

Two best friends and longtime Mariners fans are paying tribute to “their boy,” Logan Gilbert

Recently, a friend posed to me that most classic of sports fan questions: Why sports? Why baseball? I babbled on about belonging, finding community, and relationship-building, but what I really should have done is simply told her about Logan’s Loft.

Next time you’re at T-Mobile Park on a Logan Gilbert start, turn to the left field bleachers and track your eyes ever so slightly to the right of the foul pole. Chances are good that you’ll see a small, golden yellow banner strung up along the upper platform. This is Logan’s Loft, and it says as much in simple type across the front.

The Loft’s origin story is pure happenstance, borne out of an enduring friendship between two women and the Seattle Mariners. In the midst of many creative-but-still-corporate Mariners Marketing fan zones in the ballpark - the South of France, Julio’s No Fly Zone, etc. - Logan’s Loft stands as a beautiful bastion of grassroots fandom. The Loft is accessible to anyone, but its architects are Kathy Hall and Sharon Hunt, self-described “best friends” and season ticket holders since 1995 and 2005, respectively. They had arrived at then-Safeco Field early for a game on June 16, 2018 and were wandering along 1st and Edgar when they noticed some commotion over by the home plate entrance.

“This tall, skinny boy came out in a suit and tie,” Kathy said. “We watched them go over and take pictures by the Griffey statue and eventually, when they were done, we went up to him and asked him who he was. He said ‘I’m Logan Gilbert.’ We asked him to sign a ball, so he signed his name and #30 - which was his college number. And then we asked him where he was going next and he pointed over his shoulder and said ‘In there to sign my contract.’”

That Saturday was Logan Gilbert’s first as a professional baseball player. The towering Stetson University 21-year-old was the 14th overall pick in the draft and shortly after meeting Kathy and Shannon became nearly $4 million richer when he and the Mariners finalized the contract and signing bonus.

“So we really, we just knew him from the beginning,” Sharon explained to me. “We’ve been following him all this time. He’s our boy.”

The sign came later, some time after Gilbert made his major league debut in Seattle. The duo took advantage of season ticket holder on-field access and sought out the lanky right-hander. “We asked him if we made a sign, if he would sign it. And he said he would. So we came down early one day before a game and just unrolled the whole thing. He signed it and said the guys in the clubhouse love it, because you can see it from so far away.”

To give yourself over to fandom is to offer up a part of yourself to something greater, to cede control to an entity you cannot change in any real way and to know that your devotion may never be repaid on the field. It’s an exercise in release and belief; suspending influence, pretense and, yes, some measure of logic in pursuit of the uniquely powerful endorphin rush of victory. This experience of sports fandom isn’t for everyone - Mariners fandom perhaps doubly so, with their historically nominal on-field returns - but we return each season like baby sea turtles wobbling back into the SEA. And for all that we align ourselves with a specific team, it’s not the players themselves with whom we form our deepest connections - it’s our fellow fans.

Last night, Gilbert turned in a stellar, and much-needed, performance against the White Sox, closing out the sixth inning by tying his career-high, single-game strikeout record on a 99 MPH fastball - his 101st pitch of the night. I don’t know if Kathy and Sharon were at the game yesterday, but I’m sure they were watching and cheering on their boy, and knowing the joy his performance surely brought them made it all the sweeter.