Ed-garrrr … Then And Now

When I think back on my childhood and the baseball moments that permeated my early life, there are a few that standout. As I recollect, my first Seattle Mariners experience was attending a game in the early 90s, where the hometown Mariners played the Detroit Tigers.

This game took place at the Kingdome, of course, a monstrous concrete shell of a stadium that, back then, hosted both the Mariners and the Seahawks home games. On this otherwise forgettable day, my young perspective about baseball was forever changed by two men: my father and Edgar Martinez.

My memory is a few decades old, but I remember the Mariners were a few runs down against the Tigers and had an opportunity with baserunners in the 8th or 9th inning to take the lead. From our upper deck seats, I can also clearly remember wishing that Ken Griffey Jr. was coming up to bat because to me, and countless others at that time, he was the greatest player in the world. And the potential magic that my 10-year old mind conjured up when I imagined Griffey stepping to the plate was the stuff of heroes.

But when I vocalized my Griffey wish to my father, his response wasn’t about the greatest Seattle Mariner of all time, but rather about Mariners recent Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Edgar Martinez.

This past weekend, the Mariners celebrated Martinez, his storied career, professional accomplishments, and induction to the MLB HoF with a 3-game home-series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately, those pesky, playoff-bound Rays delivered the clean sweep of our rebuilding M’s. Nonetheless, the fanfare and festivities were in full effect to ensure the crowd paid the man his proper respect.

The celebration weekend was kicked-off in proper Seattle style with the raising of a #11 flag atop the Space Needle and carried all the way through to Sunday’s afternoon game, where the former slugger threw out the first pitch. As part tribute, part rallying cry–late in the game, the classic “Ed-garrr” chant began quietly building in the centerfield bleacher seats. Prompted by the “Make Some Noise” graphic on the jumbotron, the iconic call eventually spread its way around T-Mobile Park, fully engrossing the players and attendees in a warm bath of appreciation for the living legend.

And the legend is legit. Over 18 seasons in the Major Leagues, Martinez amassed an impressive collection of stats and awards, including 2x Batting Titles, 5x Silver Slugger Awards, and 7x All-Star Awards. But in his final year of Hall of Fame eligibility, Edgar finally earned the most-precious honor of them all, permanent inclusion among the game’s greatest players of all time.

More significant than his individual success and celebrations, Edgar Martinez’s initiation to Baseball’s Hall of Fame signals a noteworthy shift in HoF culture and mindset. While he did play multiple seasons at Third Base early in his career, his prowess at the plate firmly secured his spot as a career Designated Hitter for the Mariners. As such, his career stats became lopsided toward hitting, limiting his statistical well-roundedness, and up-until-now, preventing him from being granted his rightful place among his game’s peers.

But now, his induction to the HoF opens the door for Designated Hitters across the league. Even surefire future nominees like David Ortiz would be difficult to explain, if not for Edgar going in first. After all, the best designated hitter in the AL each year earns a prestigious award for excellence in their position–do you know what the award is called? The Edgar Martínez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. What else even needs to be said. The man is an incredible figure in the Seattle Mariners franchise and in the halls of Major League Baseball in general.

Back in the early ‘90s, from our nose-bleed seats, my father gave me my first real-world application of batting average. My wish to see Griffey step into the batter’s box, while well founded, wasn’t the mathematically best option. Instead, it was Martinez’s superior batting average and plate discipline that were best suited for the Mariners in this do-or-die situation. He had proven over the entire season an elite ability to work the count, intimidate pitchers, and when all is said and done, get the clutch hit when you really need it. Most of the time…

As it turned out, if my memory is accurate, whoever came up to bat didn’t get the hit we needed, and the Mariners lost the game. Which despite taking place over 20 years ago, feels sadly relevant to this weekend’s celebration.

So, while the Mariners struggled to win games back in the ‘90s and continue to struggle today, one truth remains: they’ve put a remarkable group of players in Seattle Mariners uniforms over the years.

The Mariners are still striving and working their way to an elusive playoff spot and dare-I-even-suggest-it, a World Series appearance. But along the way, we fans have been incredibly fortunate to watch, applaud, and cheer for an awesome array of ballplayers. Not least of which, is this year’s HoF inductee, Edgar Martinez.

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About Jon Aiken 80 Articles
Born and raised in Seattle, Jon developed a deep love for the Mariners and Seahawks and continues to watch, analyze, and discuss them on a daily basis. As a professional advertising copywriter, the blending of these two loves (sports/words) seemed like a natural creative evolution. He recently moved south to Tacoma, fully embracing his new hometeam, the Rainers.