Special Seattle ovation for emotional Seager

October 4th, 2021

SEATTLE -- The chants began as a faint murmur as strolled to third base in the top of the ninth inning, but they quickly grew to a deafening roar. The 11-year Mariner knew all along that 2021 was likely his swan song in Seattle, and with his team on the cusp of playoff elimination in that moment, he vulnerably took it all in.

“Ky-le, Sea-ger,” they clapped and roared on repeat, refusing to cease until Seattle’s grizzled third baseman acknowledged. He did, yet they still kept going.

A sellout crowd of 44,229 came to T-Mobile Park on Sunday hoping to see their club snap a two-decade playoff drought. They instead left with a moment that they’ll still tell their friends they were there to witness.

“I tried to wave and show my appreciation, and that kind of made it worse, to be honest with you, because then I just started getting more emotional,” Seager said of the fans. “And they kept getting louder on me. It was really special.”

After Boston’s playoff-clinching score went final, following the Yankees’ victory an inning prior, Seattle was officially eliminated with one out in the ninth. The competitiveness subsided and Seager soaked in what became clear would be his final moments as a Mariner.

What came next took the ballpark by an emotional storm.

Mariners manager Scott Servais approached home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna about a player substitution, and he wasn’t making a pitching change. Servais was removing Seager while the platform of breaking game action to create a stirring sendoff was still possible.

From there, Seager couldn’t hold back -- and neither could most of his teammates. Seager met the rest of Seattle’s position players at the mound for emotional embraces.

Mitch Haniger’s hug was quick and with a smile, a respectful nod among two players who’ve been through regime changes. J.P. Crawford’s was at length as he fought back tears while shoving his head into Seager’s shoulder, reminding the veteran how much his guidance helped transform him into a Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop. By the time Jarred Kelenic reached him, the rookie center fielder’s waterworks were already flowing.

Seager hugged them all. Then each of his teammates on the bench. And each member of the grounds crew. And the training staff and his coaches, and probably many more.

It was the grandest of goodbyes for one of the best and most consistent players in franchise history.

“When guys are getting choked up and start talking about the impact that I've had, it means a lot to me. It really does,” Seager said. “J.P. kind of got me boohooing real early on that one, so that was tough for me for the rest of the way.”

Seager’s statistical ranks in Mariners history
Games: 1,480 (fourth)
2Bs: 309 (third)
HRs: 242 (fourth)
RBIs: 807 (fourth)
Runs: 705 (fifth)

It was so eerily familiar to the one this venue saw two years ago with Félix Hernández, yet another franchise icon who was adored by the city. If Hernández was loved for his loyalty, Seager was for his workmanlike consistency and longevity.

As was the case with Hernández’s emotional farewell, if it wasn’t clear that Seager wasn’t returning next season, Sunday made it certain. Seattle holds a one-year team option on the veteran for $20 million based on incentives he reached, according to the Seattle Times.

But this day always seemed to lurk in the future at various points in the club's going-on-three-years rebuild. The Mariners had tried to trade Seager as they began this process back in 2019, along with the rest of their veterans at the time, but his contract was believed to be a reason why a deal couldn’t be executed.

So, Seattle pressed forth with the veteran, who just completed one of his most productive seasons yet. Seager slugged 35 homers and tallied 101 RBIs, both career highs, making him one of just nine big leaguers to clear those marks this season; Haniger being another.

Those numbers show that Seager still has some gas left in the tank. And a veteran run-producing third baseman in his mid-30s that can still flash the leather could be in demand on a short-term deal this offseason.

Asked about his Mariners legacy, Seager admittedly said it was a tough question -- but he answered it with a sense of closure.

“I want to be somebody that came to work every single day, absolutely did his best,” Seager said. “Competed, and not only tried to help myself, but help others and try to help everybody get better and make this team better off.”