My-oh-my ass

M's history: not exactly the stuff of which dynasties are made.

IT TAKES THE TRUE-BLUE Mariners fan to remember not only that the M's played their first game on April 6, 1977, beginning at 7:35pm, but that it took them 48 hours and 52 minutes to score their first run.

That's because they were shut out until their third game. The Marvelous M's didn't score until 8:27pm on April 8, against the Angels.

On the plus side, it took them only another hour and a half to notch their first win.

Similarly, a faithful M's fan could tell you that the first player ever to bat for the Mariners was the immortal Dave Collins.

And that he was also the first to go 0-for-4 at the plate.

Those of course are the memorable M's records of yesteryear. Today, modern Mariners enthusiasts will regale you with tales of Junior's home-run blasts, Edgar's extra-base wallops, or A-Rod's stunning defensive snags. Today's fans follow the games, peruse the box scores, and seriously weigh a pennant race. They wonder if an M's World Series isn't just around the corner.

Perhaps intentionally, they've forgotten the real history of M's baseball in Seattle: consistent, utter defeat—and fans on 24-hour suicide watch. Today is nirvana compared with nearly two torturous decades of muffed catches, wild pitches, and legendary swings and misses. Sure, it was mesmerizing—like a traffic accident.

Forever steeped in the team's clown history of outfield collisions and dugout pratfalls, charter fans hope what's around the corner for them is a lasting cure for chronic depression.

Let's see if you're one of them. Do you (1) enjoy scalding baths, (2) think the Aurora Bridge isn't high enough, or (3) hope to view the Kingdome implosion from home plate?

Not sure? OK, here's another, more simple test. It's our M's quiz, the Who, What, When, and Where of Mariners baseball legend (naturally, there is no Why). The questions can be tricky, but answer correctly and you're entitled to a free set of steak knives—what every genuine Mariners fan needs.

Q: In the Mariners' first year of existence, the immortal Kevin Pasley got only five hits. Why is that memorable?

A: Because he ended up the club's first batting champ (.385).

Q: Legendary Diego Segui, father of current M's first baseman David Segui, threw the first pitch for the M's. What else is he remembered for?

A: Locking himself in a room at the airport and having to be rescued by Ken Wilson, one of the announcers for the M's.

Q: Diego Segui also pitched for Seattle's former major league team, the Pilots. What else do the M's and the Pilots have in common?

A: The M's lost their first game 7-0, the same score by which the Pilots won their first game. Both teams also won only 64 games their first season. However, the Pilots had the good grace to change their name and leave town.

Q: While we're at it, what was the major difference between the Mariners' legendary first manager, Darrell Johnson, and the Pilots' immortal first manager, Joe Schultz?

A: Schultz used to say, "Let's get this loss over and go slam some Bud." When Johnson lost, he slammed scotch and soda.

Q: The first batter for the M's, the legendary Dave Collins, also scored the team's first run, singling after going hitless in the first two games. As designated hitter, how did he explain this?

A: "I finally found out what I was designated to hit."

Q: In the Mariners' second game ever, a line-drive foul ball almost nailed umpire Ron Luciano, who pulled out his hanky and waved it like a white flag of surrender. Who was the Angels coach standing at first base laughing so hard?

A: Del Crandall, who later become the manager for the M's and immediately lost his sense of humor.

Q: Who operated the Kingdome scoreboard those first games and what was he famous for?

A: The immortal "Rod Hughes"—at least that's what he was called when he broadcast San Francisco 49ers football games. He had to change his name to Hughes because the broadcasts were sponsored by a beer company. He later switched back to Rod Belcher.

Q: In another game that legendary first year, catcher Bob Stinson and infielder Bill Stein converged on a fly ball which neither caught. What did they learn from this?

A: That pitcher Enrique Romo, whose job it was to call out the name of the player who should field the ball, did not speak English.

Q: Rick Honeycutt once hid a tack in his pitching glove and Lenny Randle blew a grounder foul. Another legendary event occurred on July 21, 1978, in Cleveland. What record did the M's tie?

A: Striking out four times in one inning. Danny Meyer went down swinging, but Cleveland's catcher dropped the ball and Meyer made it safely to first. Seeing a chance for history, the next three M's struck out in order.

Q: In 1985, the immortal Phil Bradley and the decrepit Gorman Thomas, attempting a simultaneous double dash to home plate from second and third, were tagged out by the same man on the same play. What made the double putout even more memorable?

A: Carlton Fisk, the catcher who tagged them, was playing with a broken leg.

Q: During one spring training, the M's actually tagged out a Giants runner using the old hidden-ball trick (hiding it in an infielder's glove while the pitcher pretends to get ready to pitch). Why did the M's resort to this?

A: If they kept the ball hidden, the other team couldn't hit it over their heads.

Q: Immortal club president Chuck Armstrong once said he seriously considered changing the team's nickname to something more fitting because "Mariners" had become a laughingstock. What nickname then was suggested by fans?

A: The Seattle Laughingstockings.

Q: The M's have had lots of mottos—"You gotta love these guys," for example. A writer once suggested "You never know" as an appropriate motto for the unpredictable M's. Where did that suggestion spring from?

A: From an observation by baseball great Joaquin Andujar: "In America, there is one word that says it all. And that one word is 'You never know.'"

Q: Former M's owner George Argyros, just after taking over the team, would stand atop the Kingdome dugout and lead fans in a chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Why did he stop doing that?

A: Why don't presidents ride in open convertibles anymore?

Q: Argyros, who sold off beloved players and then made a heady profit selling off the whole franchise, was hated even more than current M's owners, who want the public to pay for Safeco Field overruns. What appropriate mission has Argyros undertaken since?

A: Helping found the Richard Nixon Library, hoping to prove history misunderstood Watergate, too.

Q: As they prepare for their first game at Safeco, the Mariners are having a so-so season—but not because manager Lou Piniella hasn't tried to fire them up: in spring training, after four minor-league pitchers complained about pitching in a lesser, B-level game, Sweet Lou made a memorable speech that rivals Knute Rockne's best. How did it go?

A: "Do these bleeping kids think we want to sit through 54 bleeping innings in the next four bleeping days? We set these B games up specifically to give every pitcher in camp the chance to get work, and now they don't want to bleeping pitch in B games? B games my bleep. Show me something in a B game and I'll get you in a bleeping A game. Every bleeping spring down here, somebody knocks your eyes out in a B game and extends their spring. We give them the chance to make a bleeping impression and they bleeping complain? Stan [pitching coach Stan Williams]! You ever heard of a guy trying to make the bleeping team who didn't want to pitch when you bleeping asked him? What the bleep is this coming to?"

Go M's. Win one for the bleeper.

 
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