For the second time in a decade, the city of Seattle was granted an expansion franchise. On this day in 1976, the Seattle Mariners were born.
The city of Seattle has a long and proud history of baseball. Dating back to 1890 and the Seattle Blues of the Pacific Northwest League, professional baseball has existed in the city in at least some manner. The Seattle Rainiers were a long time member of the Pacific Coast League. Players like John Olerud and Ron Santo were born there, and the city is the final resting place of Hall of Famer Amos Rusie.
While Seattle had a proud baseball history, Major League Baseball did not have that same level of success. The Seattle Pilots lasted for one season before moving to Milwaukee and renaming themselves the Brewers. Following the move, the Rainiers came back to town, this time as a member of the Class A Northwestern League.
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On this day in 1976, Major League Baseball gave Seattle another chance. A new expansion franchise, that would come to be named the Seattle Mariners, was granted to a six man ownership group. Danny Kaye, who was known for his 1962 hit about a Dodgers rally in the bottom of the ninth against the Giants, and his manager, Lester Smith, were part of that original ownership group.
The Mariners name itself was part of an attempt to get the community involved from the beginning. The Pilots suffered from poor support, in large part because of the small size of their home park. A “name the team” contest was created, with the Mariners name as the winning entrant.
The team struggled off the bat, and on through the 1980’s. They finished the 80’s without posting a .500 record at any point in their history, and lost 100 or more games in three of their first seven years. However, they still proved to have a solid fanbase, and the 1990’s were far better. With players like Ken Griffey Jr, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Alex Rodriguez, the Mariners changed their franchise.
While they have yet to reach the World Series, the Mariners have still made their mark upon the record books. They won a record 116 games in 2001, although they fell to the New York Yankees in the ALCS. This season, the Mariners are in win-now mode, looking to end that history of futility and finally bring a championship to the Pacific Northwest.