A Fan's Odyssey

  • This past weekend series between the Royals and Mariners in Seattle brought out a lot of mixed emotions, nostalgia, etc. from yours truly.

    It was great to see a bunch of KU Alumni at our local chapter’s event on Saturday night at Safeco Field.

    Then on Sunday Nick Collison (R.I.P. Seattle Supersonics) threw out the first pitch. Tough day for hitters on both sides. The Royals’ starter, Brad Keller, pitched great…he threw a complete game and only gave up one run. Trouble is, he was pitching against the Mariners ace James Paxton, who threw an 11-K shutout. (Appropriately, the British Columbia native won on Canada Day.)

    In a few weeks, it’ll be 40 years since I moved from KC to Seattle. The night before that move, as I packed my worldly possessions into my lime green ’71 Chevy Vega hatchback, I took an occasional glance at the game of the week on ABC Monday Night Baseball with, as luck would have it, the Royals playing the Yankees.

    Even Howard Cosell’s endless droning couldln’t keep me from following the game. (Dennis Leonard outpitched Dick Tidrow and the Royals won 5-2).

    Once I got to Seattle I tried to follow the Royals as best I could, but in those pre-Interweb, pre-ESPN days, about the only way I could get any news about them was to troop down to a newsstand downtown once a week to get a copy of the Sunday KC Star.

    A couple of months later, the Royals came to town and I went down to the gray dismal Kingdome to root them on. Maybe it was the sterile atmosphere, the paltry crowd of 6,000, or perhaps it was Frank White giving me an ugly look when I yelled some encouragement his way.

    By the time they finished that season with yet another playoff loss to the Yankees, I kind of soured on baseball for a time. It was all well and good that they made it to the World Series a couple of years later, but my heart wasn’t really in it anymore.

    Gradually I started to cast my lot with the Mariners. What the hell, they were the local team, and I tend to root for the underdog anyway.

    Those early expansion M’s were pretty bad. But it wasn’t like I’d never rooted for bad teams before. (After all, as a kid I put up with 13 straight losing seasons by the A’s before Charlie Finley hauled them off to Oakland just as they were getting good.)

    After a time, the Mariners became my main team. Of course I rejoiced when the Royals beat the Cardinals in ’85, but that was almost as much of an anti-St. Louis thing as anything else. ( I can remember going on childnood vacations with my folks and trying to pick up a Kansas City A’s broadcast, but as we drove through those small towns in Kansas and Missouri, the only thing we could get on the radio was that damn Harry Caray calling Cardinal games. But I digress…)

    Anyway, by the time the ‘90s rolled around most of my Royals heroes had retired. Meanwhile, the M’s were building a team around guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson, and managed by Lou Piniella.

    (Another KC connection…on the Royals’ first Opening Day I skipped school, walked about a mile to old Municipal Stadium, and watched a rookie Piniella go 4-for-5. They won in 12 innings, but I missed the ending ‘cause I had to catch the last bus to my neighborhood! Years later I ran into Lou at an M’s Fan Fair. He got a kick out of finding a Mariners fan who was there at his first MLB game.)

    So while I still hold a warm spot in my heart for the Royals, I’m still waiting for that first Mariners World Series game. Maybe this year?

    If not, well, Cubs fans waited twice as long.

    I ain’t getting any younger, though…

  • @nwhawkfan

    In the early 80s I had an opportunity to move to Seattle which at the time was a cool but rainy town. Looks like now it has just gone so extreme that some acquaintances have recently moved back to the MidWest. How do you like it there?

  • I gotta admit, I liked it better before it became a boom town.

    I moved here during what’s considered the second wave of national media hype. The first was during the 1962 World’s Fair, which brought the Space Needle and a lame Elvis movie. Lots of tourists, but no real growth. Then there was that TV show “Here Come The Brides” about early Seattle pioneers (as the theme song went, “The bluest skies you’re ever seen are in Seattle”). Otherwise the rest of the country pretty much ignored the Northwest.

    The second was the initial late-Seventies growth spurt that brought the Boeing comeback and major league sports (Seahawks/Mariners/Sonics). Seattle was considered the up-and-coming hip metropolis (sort of like how people view Portland nowadays) but it was still a “big small town”…a place where you could run into the same people on a regular basis, depending on your social circle.

    A local newspaper columnist named Emmett Watson foresaw what could happen once more and more people started moving here. So he started a ficticious “anti-Chamber Of Commerce” group called Lesser Seattle, whose goal was to keep the outsiders from turning the area into another Southern California.

    Then the early Nineties brought Grunge (a term that the local musicians hated, by the way), then the locally-based megacompanies like Starbucks, Amazon, and of course, Microsoft and the other tech firms). For God’s sake, they were even making lame movies about us again (like Sleepless In Seattle).

    Now it’s crowded and expensive, with brutal rush hour traffic and numerous homeless camps all over the area.

    Not that I want too put too fine a point on it. After all, the natural beauty can’t be beat. We’re flanked by two mountain ranges, Puget Sound and Lake Washington. When the dry season comes (the running joke is that summer in Seattle starts on the Fifth of July), it’s as nice as anyplace in America. The hype about it raining all the time is misleading…winters are really mild, just mostly cloudy with a little drizzle from October thru June, punctuated by the occasional outbursts of really nice weather.

    One thing that made me decide to move was a February visit. It was around 50 degrees most of the time. When I flew back to KC, I had to dig my car out of a snowdrift. It was about that time I decided to move here.

    Maybe I’m just getting cranky in my advancing age. But 40 years down the road, I just don’t know if I’d recommend a move to anyone unless they had a big bankroll and a tolerance for radical local politics.

  • @nwhawkfan Interesting, I’ve never been west of Colorado but I think the the thick trees of north west would be beautiful. On the other hand me being from a town of 600 people, I can’t stand traffic or bass bumping all hours of the night like you get in the city. If I ever get to retire (lunch break on the day of my funeral the way it’s going). I’d like to travel to the northwest, northeast and maybe by then the country won’t be divided and I can enjoy seeing it with own eyes. Some days it’s like I’m running outta time with the world the way it is, I’m only 30 but I’ve never seen the ocean, been to an amusement park or even on an actual vacation. Guess I got a little deep lol.

  • @nwhawkfan

    Interesting story. I really like the West Coast and at one time I used to be there for business almost two weeks out of every month. I have also been on vacation there many times but as much as I like it, it is not a place where I would like to live.


    Don’t wait too long to travel, before you know another 30 years will have gone by so do it while you are young and can enjoy the beautiful places all over the country…or the world, for that matter.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Amen to that last comment.

    When I was still thinking about whether or not to leave KC, one thing that swayed my decision was that I didn’t want to be 10 or 15 years further along in life, tied down with more obligations, wondering “what if” I’d moved to Seattle? I figured if it sucked, I could always move back to the Midwest. Fortunately, things managed to work out for me (personal gripes about today’s Seattle aside).

  • Missed this conversation unfortunately, but I always enjoy hearing about peoples experiences with other places. We made the Pacific Northwest once and it was memorable. Dad talked his way up to the bridge of a huge ferry we were on from Vancouver Island to somewhere near Deception Pass. Captain looked at me and asked if I wanted to drive. I said sure. So me, a 15 year old piloted that ferry for nearly an hour. Well before the days of homeland security of course.

  • @nwhawkfan

    U made the right decision, if you like 45-60 and boats.

    Don’t ever waste a second with complaints that something isn’t what it was.


    Great people doing great things make great places.

    If Berlin and Hiroshima can overcome what happened to them, Seattle will get around congestion.

    Been there many times on work and pleasure and love the variety. Anacortes. Redmond. Bellevue. Seattle. All good. Better than before. Just get used to being a high value WMD target if push ever comes to shove. 😀

    Every place gets panned unless it’s targeted for a load more development.

    LA and NY have been give up for hopeless half a dozen times each and they are now better than ever.

    Seattle will be fine.

    You just have to handle the grey.

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