The 1995 Major League Baseball Season was one of the most pivotal seasons not only in Major League Baseball History but also the history of the Seattle Mariners. The 1995 MLB Season got off to a delayed start as owners and players finally came to an agreement to end a strike that prematurely ended the 1994 season. When the strike ended a good deal of fans still stayed away, and this was quite evident in some of the MLB “wastelands” that included Seattle. The Mariners had never finished in first and never been in a serious enough pennant race to not only add to payroll during the season but to keep the attention of their fan base. With a stadium (the Kingdome) that was falling apart, the residual effects of the strike, and a potential sale the 1995 Mariners had plenty working against them. Ownership didn’t think much of the teams chances and debated whether or not the team should be put up for sale, and chances were that a buyer would move the team.
The 1995 Seattle Mariners began the season with little expectations and sub-par attendance at the Kingdome. The only notable addition by the Mariners to start the season was Joey Cora who started at second base, little did they know at the time the role he would play in the storybook finish along with Edgar and Tino Martinez, Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner, and of course Ken Griffey Jr. The Mariners struggled through the season showing some signs of life but still trailed the Angels through most of the season. When Griffey went down with a wrist injury the Mariners season looked lost.
However something happened that no one expected, the Mariners kept hope alive and stayed within striking distance of the Angels in the standings. In July they added Norm Charlton and Andy Benes to gear up for the stretch run, actually adding to the payroll late in the season for a change. After making up some games in the standings Seattle added Vince Coleman from Kansas City to give the Mariners a legitimate lead-off threat. With Griffey’s return and the rest of the team led by Jay Buhner and Randy Johnson playing the best baseball of their careers the Mariners managed to bring back the fans plus more to the Kingdome for win after win. As the Angels faded down the stretch the Mariners kept winning and all of a sudden the Mariners leaving Seattle seemed absurd, a thought that seemed just the opposite at the beginning of the season when it seemed no one cared.
As of October 1, 1995 the California Angels’ collapse was complete, a 13 game lead surrendered to the Seattle Mariners. On October 2nd Seattle won a one game playoff 9-1 and the American League West and the fun was just beginning. After dropping the first two games of the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees the Mariners rallied for a 3-2 series win. In the one sequence that has come to define not only the baseball revival in Seattle but also ranks only second to Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak moment during the 1995 season Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. helped blow the roof off the Kingdome. In the bottom of the 11th inning trailing the Yankees 5-4, with two men on base Edgar Martinez smashed a double down the left field line of the Kingdome. Joey Cora scored easily but Griffey, with Seattle’s baseball past and future on his shoulders, never ran faster and scored from first to set off a celebration that has come to define baseball success in Seattle.
The Mariners then faced the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series and played with confidence and toughness against the top team in the American League. They pushed the Indians to six games before finally bowing out at the Kingdome in front of loyal fans who suffered for so many years with the core of the 1995 team as well as a new legion of baseball fans. After the season Randy Johnson was named the American League Cy Young winner, Lou Piniella was named manager of the year, and after a wild ride there was legislation passed for the Mariners’ current home Safeco Field.
Even though it has been 18 years since this miracle in Seattle, it is a story to not only baseball fans but fans of all sports that when the situation seems hopeless there is always a chance that things will turn for the best. For the 1995 Seattle Mariners that scenario happened and saved not only their season but baseball in Seattle.