June 3, 2010

Memories of Ken Griffey, Jr., The Kid.  Back-to-back home runs with his father in 1990.  The remarkable 1995 season.  Saving baseball in Seattle.  Breaking our hearts in 2000.  And his return, in 2007 still with the Reds and then with his signing in 2009 to end his career here.  These and others will quickly displace the sour taste of this odd, last season, seemingly with a clubhouse not infected with his visible joy for the game.

And so my memories of 1995.  Griffey played only 72 games, out with injuries.  His batting average that year was his lowest as a player in Seattle (of course, until his return in 2009).  Not surprisingly, the Mariners struggled mightily and were 13 games back on August 2.  8-1/2 out on my birthday August 29 (Thank you baseball-reference.com for reinforcing my precision recall!).   But for me, 1995 was a busy summer of research, the year of our research cruises for “Mixing Zephyrs“.  25 days in late May into mid-June and 14 more the latter half of September.  My attention as the Mariners steadily rallied was more on being ready to sail on September 15 fully prepared to capitalize on a very interesting result from the earlier leg: tidal triggering of flow perturbations.  But underneath, knowing that as we sailed we were just 5 games out.

At this point I’ll borrow a piece of writing I did in 1997, again while at sea in September in the midst of our second run at the playoffs.  This appeared in a web-based logbook on September 16, 1997 (they were not yet called blogs!)

Baseball Blues For a basefall fan, there is no worse time to be at sea than September. The pennant races are tight and after faithfully following games, scores and standings, we are now cut off from newspapers, television, and KJR Sports Radio 950. We get word from friends of most Mariners scores, less often the Angels score, and with increasing frequency, happily, a magic number. But all the substance and subtlety has been lost…who pitched? who’s injured? how many HR does Junior have? who will we be playing come playoff time? why did Lou bring in the right hander with 2 outs in the 7th and the tying run on 1st?

Likewise, once we sailed in 1995 we barely knew what was going on other than that we were winning and steadily: 4 back, 3 back, 3 back, 2 back, 1 back and then on September 20, tied for first.

My colleague Marv Lilley and I were going wild.  With the standings tied we had to have playoff tickets.  And we knew our wives were not going to be much help; in fact, mine would be no help!  But after a ~$100 phone call (calling from sea at that time was $10/minute) the administrator of our department stepped up for us and we secured rights to four strips of tickets, way out in left field at the Kingdome, a couple of rows from the top of the section.  All we needed was to actually keep winning.  By the time we stepped off the ship, up 3, then slipping to finish tied at the end of the regular season.  Monday, October 2, one game playoff, Randy Johnson phenomenal, AL West Champions.

No need for me to recount the baseball side of the Yankees series.  Marv’s family and my family alternated nights, with Marv substituting for Tobae on my nights.  (Tobae finally did go to one game in the ALCS and I believe I heard her cheer.)  My best memory was after Game 2 waiting at 3rd and Jackson for a bus back to UW.  Marv was astounded by the fascination of Daniel and Mark (then 7 and 6) with the parking meters.  We are such a rural family that they had never seen one!

Closing this post by returning to the cruise calendar.  ALVIN Dive 3000 occurred on September 20, the day the Mariners tied up the standings.  My “Apollo 13” experience, Dive 3004, was on September 24.  Lost to Oakland, up 2.  It must have been the baseball euphoria that got me back in ALVIN for Dive 3005, when we captured the chemical evidence that substantiated our temperature data…zephyrs were mixing, but not at all in the way we had imagined.  Once the ALCS was over, and baseball buzz subsided, I reflected on my Apollo 13 day…and not happy over the complacency around safety, I haven’t been in ALVIN since.

Thanks Junior!