Mariners turn back the clock
06/29/2006 9:58 PM ET By C.J. Bowles / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- It is important to celebrate the past.
That's exactly what the Mariners will do Sunday, July 9, when the team honors the first Major League Baseball team in the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Pilots, at Turn Back the Clock Night.
Even though the Pilots only lasted for one season in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers, the team paved the way for Seattle to be selected as the site for an expansion ballclub in 1977.
When the Mariners take the field against the team with the best record in baseball, the Tigers, they will don the throwback Pilots uniforms. The Tigers will also participate in the celebration by wearing replica uniforms of their 1969 team.
"The Pilots paved the way for Major League Baseball in Seattle," said Mariners manager of marketing and promotions Cole Parsons. "Turn Back the Clock Day is a fun opportunity to take a trip back to 1969 and relive baseball in the Northwest before the Mariners, the Kingdome and Safeco Field."
Several people who were prominent figures for the Pilots franchise have been invited to participate in pregame ceremonies. They include outfielders Tommy Davis, Steve Hovley, and Steve Whitaker, pitcher bob Locker, coach Ed O'Brien, and broadcaster Bill Schonely.
To give the game more of an old-fashioned feel, organist Jerry Frank will play live music between innings while the hydroplane race and Hat Trick will be done in a throwback way. Schonely, the former broadcaster, will also get a turn behind the public address microphone.
According to Parsons, when the Mariners trot onto the field in the Pilots uniforms, it will be the fifth time the team has worn throwback jerseys -- the first time since 1998 and also the first time since moving to Safeco Field. The first came in 1993 when the Seattle Rainiers were celebrated. Next, in '95, the Seattle Steelheads of the Negro Leagues were honored. Then in '97, the first Mariners team was remembered as the trident uniforms were pulled out of the closet 20 years after their inception. And finally, in '98, Seattle turned ahead the clock to the year 2027 with jerseys that featured vertical lettering of "Mariners" and the player's last name on the back.
"One thing we decided was that we wanted it to stay in Seattle," Parsons explained. "Even though the Pilots are not a part of the Mariners' franchise, they are big part of baseball in Seattle. We've done the Rainiers and we've done the Steelheads of the Negro Leagues, so the next logical step was the Pilots.
"We think that this edition of the retro uniforms gives it even a little bit more legs. And, the Pilots are a piece of Seattle baseball history that a lot of people don't know very much about."
The Mariners have also had numerous other nights to celebrate the past, like the decade of the 60s or the 70s, but those promotions did not include a different jersey being worn by the players.