This is what it looks like when an entire city falls in love
Every fifth day for the last 15 years was a day of celebration in Seattle. It was more regular than your standing Friday night pizza order or the delivery of your mail -- come rain or shine, in the thick of a pennant race or in the midst of a rebuild. Félix Hernández would take the mound. Félix Hernández would decimate the opposition. And thousands of fans, sitting in the King Félix's Court, decked out in their yellow T-shirts, would hold their giant "K" signs high.
But all good things must end, and on Thursday, Hernandez made what was probably his final appearance in Seattle. Hernández's contract with the Mariners is up at the end of the year, and in the twilight of his legendary career, odds are he won't be back. But that couldn't have mattered less to his fans and his city.
Before he took the mound, Hernández's teammates put on his iconic tee. Even Ichiro -- who already had his own farewell at the start of the year -- went out of his way to honor his long-time teammate:
The fans packed the park, and it was a sea of yellow as far as the eye could see. The placards had changed. No longer just a "K," these cards read "Thanks," and Hernandez pumped his fist toward his adoring crowd as he took the mound.
Seattle salutes King Felix pic.twitter.com/zN5ZqimdQl— Subscribe to Cut4 on YouTube!!!! (@Cut4) September 27, 2019
There may not have been a dry eye in the house, as Seattle fans chanted for their hero all throughout the game, yelling for the man who gave them a reason to hope and expect a victory every fifth day. A man who starred in team commercials with giant muttonchops and called himself "Larry Bernandez."
The images tell the whole story. This is an entire city of people who fell in love with their pitcher and a pitcher who loved them in return.
When Hernández was lifted, even the pitcher himself couldn't hold back the tears.
There absolutely is crying in baseball. 👑 pic.twitter.com/2gH5YWWdZo— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) September 27, 2019
There aren't many kings that go out beloved by their subjects. But, then again, there's only one King Félix.
Michael Clair writes about baseball for Cut4. He believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit and Adam Dunn's pitching performance was baseball's greatest moment.