I can still remember the first time wandering into the rowdy mass of yellow along the left field line at Safeco Field. While tickets to the left field corner weren’t anyone’s definition of prime seating, the view wasn’t the sell. At this point, the Seattle Mariners were already working on their 10th straight playoff-free season, but the team’s track-record didn’t matter much once I put on the flimsy yellow T-shirt and grabbed the premade crown-adorned “K” sign that came with my seat. For the first time in years, baseball felt energized and special. The Mariners may have still been trash as a team, but at least we had the best pitcher in baseball. Felix Hernandez was the ace we probably didn’t deserve, and the King’s Court was the cheering section he certainly did deserve. What started as a novelty that 2011 season soon became a beloved tradition.
Make no mistake, the King’s Court is the best fan section in baseball by a wide margin, and among the best in all sports. While other teams have tried to capture the same magic for their own star players, pretty much every attempt has been a dud. When the second best option is an 18-seat collection of Yankees fans in robes cheering on slugger Aaron Judge in The Judge’s Chambers —wel, let’s just say the King doesn’t need to be worried about his throne.
The King’s Court has been there for some of the few positive memories in recent Mariners fan history: From the thrill of seeing a huge crowd all toting K cards during the stadium-wide Supreme Court game that followed Hernandez’s perfect game in 2012 to the gem he tossed in vain on the last day of the season as the M’s came up one-game short of the Wild Card in 2014.
The King’s Court is exhilarating. It’s communal. It’s the reason there is any yellow in my wardrobe.
But there’s been another unavoidable fact plaguing the King’s Court since its inception: It’s undoubtedly the worst place in all of Safeco Field to actually watch King Felix pitch.
It’s all an issue of those wonderful K cards, and enthusiasm overtaking decorum.
Whenever there’s a two-count strike, fans in the King’s Court rise to their feet and hold their K cards high, chanting, “K-K-K-K-K.” While it’s a great visual on TV, it’s not a visual at all from the stands. In the section dedicated to Hernandez, you can’t actually see him pitch because large signage obscures all views. One basically has to react to sounds to know what happened. C’mon people. Shouldn’t actually seeing the strikeouts be part of the thrill?
These may sound like the grumpy ramblings of a 30-year-old burnt out on Mariners losses, but I’m six-feet tall and can’t see; imagine the views for King’s Court kids. If a fan in another section constantly blocked views of those around them, it wouldn’t be tolerated.
It’s not even a difficult fix: Holding the cards at chest level would alleviate the entire problem while still giving a striking visual. Dear Mariners, can we please just have a little unoffical rule/disclaimer about this?
The King’s Court is the best place to experience a Mariners game; it’d just be great if it was also the best place to watch one.