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Celebrating Edgar Martinez on Opening Day

 


The display on my phone came from the 509 area code.

I almost didn't answer, and waited several rings before I did. A young-sounding man on the other end identified himself as Tyler Thompson, marketing manager for the Seattle Mariners.

He asked if I would like to go to opening day and see Edgar Martinez throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

I figured this was a sales pitch to buy tickets.

To my surprise, Tyler was inviting me to opening day at T-Mobile Park as a guest of the Mariners. Mariners management had seen the Larry Stone article in the Seattle Times in which I was called "the catalyst."

I am still not certain exactly what Larry meant by "catalyst." In the article, I was recognized for having enthusiastically supported the Edgar Martinez candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

For that support, the Mariners had two tickets to opening day, and asked that I join a few other long-time Edgar fans on the field when Edgar threw out the first pitch. Of course I said yes, but I also thought I might be being pranked by someone who knew about my support for Edgar.

Stone set me at ease by telling me it was real and that he had given Tyler my phone number.

Then came the waiting. I was like a kid seeing the presents under the Christmas tree and not wanting to wait to open them. Finally, a week before opening day, the tickets, and a hand-written note from Tyler arrived in my mailbox.

Then it was real. Not a mirage. Not my imagination.

The Mariners had really invited me to opening day. It seemed that they had changed their plans a bit. The dress rehearsal was cancelled. I guessed that meant that we wouldn't be going on the field with Edgar.

Another email from Tyler indicated that we would still meet at the Dave Niehaus statue in center field at 3:30.

Game day arrived. I put on my new Edgar Martinez jersey, my old Edgar Martinez cap, and my borrowed Mariners warm-up jacket, and headed to T-Mobile Park. I hadn't been smart enough to buy a parking pass online, so I waded through parking lots.

One wouldn't take me because the only way to pay was to use a smartphone. I am still a trog who doesn't use a smartphone. The place I wound up at wouldn't take cash, so I used my credit.

In T-Mobile Park I found my seat and waited for 3:30. I had time enough to get some exercise by walking two laps of the park. Then, my daughter, grandson, and I went to the Niehaus statue. I recognized David Crocker from his photo, and introduced myself.

Soon after, two young men wearing Mariners front office staff dog tags arrived and asked if we were there to meet Thompson. After a little time, KOMO’s Scott Sistek arrived. He’s taller than I would have expected from his pictures.

We discovered we were missing one member of our quartet. Finally, one of the Mariners staff reached her by cellphone. She was standing about 50 feet away and didn't see us .

Then Tyler arrived. Opening day program had already started. Macklemore was performing. The magenta carpet had been unrolled for team introductions. Tyler led us up four flights of stairs to a landing in right-center field.

Staff shooed everybody back from the rail, and told us to take our positions by the rail. In front and below, the rail was a black fabric cover. That was for covering the number of days until Edgar Martinez would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

We saw two other banners on landings above us. Staff would unveil those at the same moment we unveiled the lower one. Actually, two employees were at both ends of our banner to get it out of the way if we messed up.

We were told to look across to the camera on the opposite side of the field and wave when our names were called. The order was alphabetical. David Crocker was first on the far right, then Mary Harder, then me, and finally Scott Sistek.

They had confirmed how to pronounce my name earlier. I gave them the usual response – leave out the "a" in pronouncing it. It comes out as “Rets-loff.” I couldn't hear my name called in the loud chaos, but I guessed at the timing and apparently got it right.

Then the countdown began from 11, Edgar's uniform number. 11,10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. We lifted the cover, and the countdown to Cooperstown began at 115 days.

Edgar came out and threw the ceremonial first pitch. Of course, the crowd cheered. Then there was a baseball game.

I sat next to a member of Red Sox Nation. As he expected, the Red Sox took an early lead. He let it be known that the Mariners weren't capable of keeping the field against the Sox, and the Sox really had no respect for the Mariners.

But the Mariners came back from the early deficit by pounding Red Sox starter Chris Sale. The Red Sox had just given Sale a $145 million contract extension the week before. The M's made it look like a bad deal.

The member of Red Sox Nation left in the 6th inning with his team well behind.

Final score: M's 12, Sox 4. A thoroughly great opening day for 2019, and a fun afternoon for me. Hopefully a day my grandson will remember when he is my age in 60 years.

Edmonds resident Tim Raetzloff, a member of the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission, writes the History Files column for the Edmonds Beacon. He created a website supporting the inclusion of Edgar Martinez into the Hall of Fame.

 

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