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9 must-see Mariners artifacts on display at HOF

@goodforball
June 26, 2020

Seattle endured something akin to a false start as a home for big league baseball. But when the Majors returned to the Pacific Northwest in 1977, it established an enduring presence, largely because the Mariners showcased the game’s brightest stars. The Mariners’ roll call includes Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez,

Seattle endured something akin to a false start as a home for big league baseball. But when the Majors returned to the Pacific Northwest in 1977, it established an enduring presence, largely because the Mariners showcased the game’s brightest stars.

The Mariners’ roll call includes Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, Félix Hernández and Robinson Canó, who generated countless memories for legions of fans. The memorabilia linked to those memories survives today.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection of more than 40,000 three-dimensional pieces contains artifacts that tell the story of the game’s legendary players, moments and triumphs. Beginning this summer and running through the end of 2020, the Hall of Fame will share some of those memorable artifacts through a new limited time experience: Starting Nine, which features nine artifacts from each of the 30 current MLB franchises. Whether you’ve visited before or you’ve always wanted to check it out, this is another great reason to plan a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum -- the spiritual home of America’s Pastime in beautiful Cooperstown, N.Y.

1) Pilot episode
Where: Whole New Ballgame exhibit

Fun facts: This is the cap that the Seattle Pilots wore in 1969, their sole season of existence. The Pilots were among four expansion clubs to join the Majors that year. The Kansas City Royals were assigned to the American League along with the Pilots, while the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos joined the National League. After drawing 677,944 in home attendance during a 64-98 campaign, the Pilots packed up and moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers.

2) This card trumps all
Where: Shoebox Treasures exhibit

Fun facts: This 1989 Griffey rookie card issued by Upper Deck prompted a boom in the card-collecting industry. Upper Deck wisely chose to associate itself with a charismatic, can’t-miss young star and reaped the financial benefits for doing so.

3) Sweet stick
Where: One for the Books exhibit

Fun facts: Griffey used this bat during his 1993 streak of eight consecutive games with a home run. Griffey tied a record shared by Dale Long (1956) and Don Mattingly ('87). Griffey drove in 14 runs during this stretch, which included a grand slam.

4) Hello, Mr. Ruth
Where: Whole New Ballgame exhibit

Fun facts: Martinez, a fan favorite during his 18-year career with the Mariners, gave local fans a thrill when he used this bat to hit a two-run homer at T-Mobile Park, then called Safeco Field, on Sept. 23, 2000. The smash hiked Martinez’s RBI total to 139, enabling him to eclipse Babe Ruth’s record for most runs driven in by a player age 37 or older.

5) The shirt off an icon’s back
Where: Viva Baseball exhibit

Fun facts: Martinez, widely considered baseball’s top designated hitter through much of his 18-year career, wore this jersey on Oct. 3, 2004, the date of his final game. Martinez retired with a .312 batting average, a .418 on-base percentage and high rankings in almost every major offensive category in Mariners history.

6) Say hello to Ichiro
Where: One for the Books exhibit

Fun facts: Skeptics questioned Ichiro's ability to adjust to Major League pitching when he left Japan for the Mariners in 2001. In fact, Ichiro didn’t just adjust to the pitching here. Quite often, he dominated it. Ichiro used this bat in 2004 while banging out a record 262 hits and leading the Majors with a .372 batting average.

7) Still hitting after all those years
Where: One for the Books exhibit

Fun facts: Ichiro wore this jersey on Sept. 13, 2009, when he amassed his 200th hit of the season -- the ninth of 10 consecutive years in which he reached that plateau. Ichiro finished with a Major League-high 225 hits, and his .352 batting average was the second-best of his career.

8) All Hail the King
Where: Locker Room exhibit

Fun facts: Hernández was synonymous with dominance through much of his Major League career. But he went to extremes on Aug. 15, 2012, when he threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in a 1-0 Mariners victory. Hernandez, who wore this jersey during that charmed performance, struck out 12 batters, including five of the last six he faced.

9) Rockin’ Robinson
Where: Locker room exhibit

Fun facts: On Aug. 4, 2017, when Canó smashed his 500th career double with this bat, a little more than 18,000 men had played in the Majors. Of those, just 63, about 0.35%, had reached this milestone. A model of consistency, Canó had 13 consecutive seasons of 33 or more doubles from 2005-17.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.