Saturday, April 07, 2007

Tatonka's Favorite Mariners Series #2: Edgar

October 8, 1995.

Bottom of the eleventh, down 5-4, Joey Cora on second, Junior at first. Rookie Alex Rodriguez on deck and Jack McDowell on the mound. Ahead 0-1, Black Jack tries to go inside with a fastball. The pitch is jerked into left field. Gerald Williams races over, but can’t cut it off and plays it off the wall. Cora scores easily and Junior slides in ahead of Tony Fernandez’ relay. Mariners win 6-5.

Alex jumps on top of Junior and a huge pile forms around the plate as the M’s celebrate. You’ve seen that part on TV. But Cora runs out towards second base instead, and jumps in the arms of the batter and an equally large pile forms on him. The Mariners have won their first ever post-season series and that winter the Legislature would approve the funding package to build Safeco Field. It’s probably hyperbole to say that baseball was saved in Seattle that day, but it is unquestionably the biggest single hit in their history.

The man responsible for it all comes in at #2 in Tatonka’s Favorite Mariners, Edgar Martinez.

Edgar is so much more than just that one hit however. He was class personified and one of the few people who truly deserved the moniker “professional hitter.” In his prime he was widely considered, if not the best hitter in the game, at least the best right handed one. The numbers are special. Seven times an All-Star, Gar won 5 Silver Sluggers and two batting titles. His career OBP of .418 is 22nd all-time. His career SLG of .515 is 63rd all-time and his batting average of .312 is 89th. Despite a late start to his career (he didn’t become a full time player until he was 27) his 514 doubles are 36th all-time and garnered him the nickname Senor Double.

But it’s more than the numbers too. Edgar was a true gentleman and to young Latin ballplayers, he was Papi long before David Ortiz. Always willing to laugh at himself he was the often the star of the famous “You gotta love these guys” ad campaigns and his Eagle Hardware spots were instant classics: “Eeeeets a light bat!” He was always willing to stand up and be counted and gladly took on the role of face of the franchise after Junior left town.

We loved the chant where one person would yell “ED!” and the other growl “GRRRRR!” Indeed, some in the group claim authorship of that chant, but of course proving that is impossible. In any case, it was especially fun to ask the 8 year old sitting behind you, “Hey kid, say ‘Ed.’” If he obliged you could scare the pants off him with a quick, “Grrrrrrrrr!” It made a lot of blowouts go by quicker.

Edgar is the one guy who spans the transition of the Mariners from bad to good. Depending on whether you think Gaylord Perry’s 48 starts make him a Mariner or not, Edgar has a good chance of being the first Mariner in the Hall of Fame. I don’t know if he’ll get in or not, but for us, he defines the term.

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At 3:33 PM, Blogger Mike said...

anyone know where i might be able to find edgar's eagle hardware "light bat" commercial online? love that ad.


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