Franchise Record: (through 2016) 2,984-3,372 (.469)
Post Season Record: 15-19 (.441)
World Series Titles: 0
American League Pennants: 0
The Seattle Mariners were created on February 6, 1976, when the American League awarded an expansion franchise to Seattle, WA, to begin play in 1977. The ownership group was led by entertainer Danny Kaye, along with Stanley Golub, Walter Schoenfeld, Lester Smith, James Stillwell, Jr. and James A. Walsh. The team was named after a name-the-team contest.
The Mariners were best known for their futility on the field for the team's first decade and a half. They lost more than 100 games three times in their first seven seasons. One of the few highlights during that time was when Gaylord Perry won his 300th game with the club in 1982. In 1984, two rookies gave the club some hope: first baseman Alvin Davis hit 27 homers and won the Rookie of the Year Award, and hard-throwing pitcher Mark Langston won 17 games and struck out a league-leading 204 batters. However, Davis' rookie year proved to be his best season, and Langston was traded in 1989 when he threatened to become too expensive. The Mariners ended the 1980s still without ever having a .500 or better season.
In the next decade, the fortunes of the Seattle Mariners improved when Japanese video game giant Nintendo bought the team in 1992. Led by young outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and pitcher Randy Johnson (who was acquired from the Montreal Expos in the Langston trade), the club exceeded .500 for the first time in 1991. In 1993, Lou Piniella was hired to manage the club, and he transformed them from also-rans to contenders. They won their division in 1995 and 1997, defeating the New York Yankees in a spectacular Division Series the first year before bowing to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Another young superstar, shortstop Alex Rodriguez, emerged in those days, alongside Edgar Martinez, one of the best designated hitters in history.
Despite trading Griffey and Johnson, they reached the playoffs again in 2000. In 2001, after Rodriguez had left via free agency, the Mariners won a league-best and major league record-tying 116 games, but lost the American League Championship Series to the New York Yankees. Japanese OF Ichiro Suzuki took the baseball world by storm that year, and would go on to set a number of records, including for most hits in a season with 262 in 2004. Piniella left the club after the 2002 season, and by 2004, the team was back to its losing ways, finishing in last place with 99 losses. During the decade that followed, the Mariners were no longer in contention for the postseason, but simply looking to finish above the .500 mark, something they have only managed to do twice, in 2007 and 2009, in the 2004-2013 period.
In 2016, Nintendo of America, to which ownership of the team had been transferred from the parent company in 2004, announced its intention to sell the team in anticipation of the retirement of longtime chairman Howard Lincoln. A group of minority owners, led by John Stanton, put together an offer to purchase the team as well as a majority share in the ROOT Sports regional sports network for a total of $1.4 billion. Ironically, the corporate entity owning the team remained the same - a company named First Avenue Entertainment LLLP - even though the ownership of its shares changed completely in the transaction. Nintendo did retain a small stake in the company, however.
Members of Mariners Hall of Fame
Alvin Davis (inducted 1997)
Dave Niehaus (broadcaster - inducted 2000)
Jay Buhner (inducted 2004)
Edgar Martinez (inducted 2007)
Randy Johnson (inducted 2012)
Dan Wilson (inducted 2012)
Ken Griffey Jr. (inducted 2013)
Jamie Moyer (inducted 2015)
- Kirby Arnold: Tales from the Seattle Mariners Dugout, Sports Publishing LLC, Champaign, IL, 2007.
- Bill Mullins: Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA, 2013. ISBN 978-0-295-99252-5
- Jon Wells: Shipwrecked: A People's History of the Seattle Mariners, Epicenter Press, Kenmore, WA, 2012.
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