I was in Seattle this weekend to celebrate my friend Stan's wedding and I decided to check out Safeco Field. The wedding took place on Saturday. I purposely booked a late flight back to LA so that I could use Sunday to dedicate my day to baseball. My goal one day is to visit each stadium for every MLB team and since i've never been to Safeco Field before this was a must. The Mariners had their opening night this weekend on Friday and they were hosting the Oakland A's for a three game series. I decided to leave the hotel about 10am and walked to the stadium which took me about 15 minutes. The game was scheduled to begin at 1:10pm and the gates were opening two hours prior to the first pitch. I wanted to get there early to get a head start for graphing.
I arrived at the stadium around 10:20am and went over to the ticket window to buy the cheapest tickets available. I decided to pick up some bleacher seats. I figured that it really didn't matter since I knew the game wouldn't sell out and I never sit in my assigned seat anyways. Plus this was my first visit so I wanted to walk around to the different areas of the stadium to take pictures.
I realized that Ichiro pretty much has rock star/God-like status in Seattle since you see his face everywhere. They should just rename the place Ichiro Field.
On a side note I took a picture of the Pyramid Ale House. It was located directly across the street from Safeco. That's one of my favorite beers all time.
I decided to do some more walking around the stadium before the gates opened. I ended up on the Right Field Gates and started chatting it up with a fellow grapher named Kelly. Kelly was nice enough to help me throughout the day showing me which areas to go for graphing since he is a regular at Safeco Field. He was also very helpful when identifying players too since everyone was wearing number 42 today since it was Jackie Robinson Day.
As soon as the stadium gates opened at 11am we headed straight towards the right field. Some of the pitchers were already out in Right Field playing toss and warming up.
The first player to sign for me was Tom Wilhelmson. Since I didn't have a card of him I had him be the first player to sign my Mariners Mini Helmet for 2012. Then Erasmo Ramirez, Lucas Luetge and Charlie Furbush came along and signed my mini helmet as well.
Then Steve Delabar signed for us. He was one of the few players I did have a card of on me. Plus it was a rookie card which is an extra bonus. The only set I own right now is Topps Heritage 2012. I'm sort of new to getting cards signed so I was happy to finally get my first Topps Heritage 2012 card signed this year. I'm sure my friend Benson would be proud of me that I finally started getting cards signed.
I noticed that there were a lot of Japanese fans out at the ballpark today. This was indeed very beneficial since they wanted autographs too. I told a few of the fans to call Munenori Kawasaki and Hisashi Iwakuma for an autograph request in Japanese and this indeed worked. I ended up getting Kawasaki and Iwakuma to sign my ROMLBs on the SS. Instead of asking for sweet spot I literally had to point to them where to sign since they were side panelling all their signatures for the other fans. Thank God those guys also were nice enough not to run with sharpies as I noticed other fans using Sharpies to get their baseballs signed. When will these people learn.
Getting both Iwakuma and Kawasaki just made my day. As you know I collect signatures of any Asian MLB player both past and present. I figured I wouldn't get Ichiro on this trip so this was the next best thing.
What I noticed was that the difference between graphing in Seattle vs LA was that there is less competition here and less stress. The fans seem to be less hardcore about graphing thus it's easier to get access to the players. In LA there are runners and dealers everywhere so the competition level gets a bit stiff. Here you don't see it too much. The ushers most of all were friendly especially near the dugout helping fans get autographs and also making sure that fans don't double dip. If they saw you get an autograph they would ask you to leave politely so that others can get a chance as well. If we couldn't reach the players the ushers would actually hand the item and pen to the players so that they can sign for you. I guess it helps that this is a small market team. It was nice just to have a day without dealing with rude/pushy people.
Remember I mentioned my buddy Kelly previously who is a grapher at Safeco Field who helped me throughout this day. He also informed me that Celtic Legend Bill Russell was throwing out the first pitch to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day. Thus we both tried to get him to sign some baseballs from us. Here is how close we got to the legend himself Bill Russell.
At one point we got right next to him and he ignored our autograph request. It was just me and Kelly and he still ignored us. None of the other fans knew who he was. Then one of his handlers mentioned the Mr. Russell never signs so good luck with that. I really didn't expect him to sign for us since i've heard in the past that he is a tough autograph to get. Nonetheless it was worth a shot anyways.
Here is a photo of my lunch. I decided to eat healthy and get some Garlic Fries. LOL.
A cool feature that Safeco Field has is that fans have a direct view to the Mariners and the road team's dugout. The entire stadium is fan friendly with a bunch of standing room only areas were people can get a different look and view of each stadium.
I had to leave the game around the fourth inning since I had a flight to catch. Therefore the last stop I made was at the Mariners Hall of Fame located inside the stadium. I took a few pictures there as well.
All in all it was an awesome trip to Safeco Field.