Bruce Bochte, the Mariners lone All-Star in 1979, batted .316 and drove in 100 runs.
On February 6, the American League awarded an expansion franchise to Seattle and the ownership that included actor-entertainer Danny Kaye and five members of the local business community: Lester Smith, Stan Golub, Walter Schoenfeld, James Stillwell and James Walsh.
On August 24, the team announced the name “Mariners,” the result of a Name the Team Contest, which included over 600 names and 15,000 total entries. The fan who was selected as winner of the contest was Roger Szmodis of Bellevue, Wash., who wrote “I’ve selected Mariners because of the natural association between the sea and Seattle and her people, who have been challenged and rewarded by it.”
The Mariners selected outfielder Ruppert Jones from the Royals with the first pick in the Expansion Draft on November 5, 1976. The Toronto Blue Jays also joined the A.L. for the 1977 season.
Record: 64-98, Finished 6th (of 7) in AL West
On April 6, Major League Baseball returned to Seattle when the Mariners played the California Angels before a sold out Kingdome crowd of 57,762. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by U.S. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. The Kingdome was the first domed stadium in the American League.
Memorable Moment: Right-hander Diego Segui, who in 1969 pitched in the first game of the Seattle Pilots and in their final victory of the season, was the Opening Night starter for the Mariners. At age 40, Diego went 3.2 innings in the Opener, and appeared in 40 games in the final year of his 15-year Major League career. The Mariners lost the opener 7-0.
The first win was in Game 3 of the Opening Series vs. the Angels, scoring two in the bottom of the 9th for a 7-6 walk-off win, ending on Larry Milbourne’s double. They had the ups and downs of an expansion team, and went on to finish the inaugural season with a 64-98 record, good for sixth place in the seven-team A.L. West. Home attendance was 1.3 million, at the time a record for a MLB expansion team in the U.S.
Outfielder Lee Stanton was voted the team’s MVP (27 home runs, 90 RBI), and led the offense along with first baseman Dan Meyer (90 RBI) and center fielder Ruppert Jones (24 HR, 76 RBI) who was selected to the AL All-Star team. “Rupe” was a fan favorite in the early years. 1977 stats >>
Record: 56-104, Finished 7th (of 7) in AL West
Right fielder Leon Roberts was voted the team’s Player of the Year, leading the club with 22 home runs, 92 RBI and a .301 batting average. Exciting young second baseman Julio Cruz led the AL in fielding percentage and was third in stolen bases with 59. Shortstop Craig Reynolds batted .292 and was named to the AL All-Star team.
Memorable Moments vs. Yankees: The Mariners continued to “have the Yankees number” at the Kingdome for the second straight season. In the Yanks two trips to Seattle in 1977, the Mariners won both series, sweeping two games in May and taking two of three in August. In their second season, the Mariners won two of three games in both home series vs. the Yankees, who were the 1977 and 1978 World Series Champions. And in 1979, the Mariners won five of six games vs. the Yankees at the Kingdome. 1978 stats »
Record: 67-95, Finished 6th (of 7) in AL West
The Seattle Mariners hosted MLB’s 50th All-Star Game and were represented by first baseman Bruce Bochte. After receiving a long, standing ovation during pregame introductions, he singled and drove in a run, the first hit and RBI by a Mariner in an All-Star Game. The National League topped the American League 7-6 in front of a sellout crowd of 58,905 at the Kingdome.
The club improved by 13 games and finished the year 67-95. The pitching staff was led by starters Mike Parrott (14-12, 3.77 ERA, 13 CG), Floyd Bannister and Rick Honeycutt.
Memorable Moment: On June 6 at the Kingdome, DH Willie Horton belted his 300th career home run off Tigers ace Jack Morris. At the time, Willie was just the 41st player to do so. The night before, he hit what appeared would be his 300th, but the ball struck a speaker high above left field, and fell to the ground for a single. Willie earned the AL Outstanding Designated Hitter of the Year Award, leading the team with 29 home runs and 106 RBI. 1979 stats »