Futures Game bridges Mariners' rich past with bright future

July 9th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Harry Ford’s mind wandered furiously on Saturday afternoon, but it was all centralized on the game in front of him.

The glamor of playing in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at T-Mobile Park was certainly part of it, but the elite stage is also not foreign to him after competing for Team Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year.

No, Ford -- Seattle’s No. 1 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 27 overall -- is constantly in tune with each pitch, and perhaps even more impressive, he entrusts those around him by constantly dissecting their acumen. 

Ford was the hometown favorite on Saturday, a face of the Mariners’ future. But Seattle’s prestigious past was on full display, too, in the form of an American League coaching staff that included icons of yesteryear -- manager Harold Reynolds, first-base coach Jay Buhner, third-base coach Mike Cameron, pitching coach Jamie Moyer, hitting coach Alvin Davis and bench coach Dave Valle.

And, of course, Ken Griffey Jr. had a seat in the dugout, too, bringing his full-sized camera in tow -- backward cap and all.

“It's cool being able to learn from dudes who have done it and dudes who have really succeeded and done well at it,” Ford said. “And so I'm just trying to soak up everything I can from these guys and get any tips I can.”

Ford struck out in a full count in his lone at-bat and caught just two innings during the NL's 5-0 win. After, he meandered through the home dugout and spent extended time with each coach. After catching Royals prospect Will Klein, he and Moyer broke down the righty’s outing and offered encouragement after Klein gave up two runs. Despite being teammates for only this day, it was a noticeable effort.

Throughout the top of fourth, when Buhner wasn’t occupied in the first-base coach’s box, Ford sat atop the dugout rail and talked to him for an extended period. Buhner was speaking vocally and with his hands, gestured toward the field, a telling sign that he was teaching something.

Jay Buhner looks on as Ken Griffey Jr. takes pictures at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. (Getty Images)

In the game’s final inning, Ford kneeled near the dugout tunnel, just behind Davis, who was there throughout the game, and Reynolds, who was tasked with ensuring every AL prospect saw playing time. To be sure, this was an exhibition and more about having fun rather than a tense, high-stakes matchup. But it felt notable that Ford steered toward the afternoon’s decision-makers.

“He's into the game. He knows what's going on,” Moyer said. “I noticed like out in the bullpen, with our starter, he had some conversations and I'm like, 'Oh, he's taking control.' And then when they left the bullpen, those two walked together all the way to the dugout and they were talking in the dugout. That shows me something about a special character."

“He's into the game. He knows what's going on," Jamie Moyer said of Mariners prospect Harry Ford.

Beyond Ford, it was clear that even with the general fun of the day, Moyer took his role seriously, consulting each pitcher after they exited and offering insightful nuggets and words of encouragement. Really, the entire coaching staff did.

“It's not often that, as an old guy, you get to be around some of those unbelievable talent,” Moyer said. “This talent is like one phone call from being here on a permanent basis, so to respect that and understand that, if I can lay one thing on a kid or make an impression on a kid in a positive way, that's why we're here.”

Mariners fans tuning in might’ve felt a sense of the surreal. Here was the franchise’s past meeting present -- and future. The coaching staff all appreciated the moment just as much.

“I think that's always the best, the chance to enjoy the camaraderie of guys you went to battle with a little bit on the baseball field,” Cameron said. “We don't get a chance to see everybody all the time, but when we do, to have a chance to come back to see some guys, it's pretty special.”

After the game, Ford was interviewed by Mariners Vision on the jumbotron and received a roaring ovation when he shouted to the crowd. He’s only at High-A Everett and still has plenty of development in front of him. But, if he continues at this trajectory and blossoms into the player the Mariners envision, it could be the first of many on-field postgame interviews at this venue.

“This is home, man,” Ford said. “I don’t have to think about it. I’m loving it and loving being out here.”