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Elliana was four years old when she went to Safeco Field to see her first Mariners game.

It was 2009, and we all thought it would be Ken Griffey Jr.’s last game. I wanted her to be able to say she saw him play. She did, but that was not the highlight of the game for me!

Elliana’s First Mariners Game

I was eleven when we went to San Diego to visit my uncle and his family. It was there that I saw my first major league baseball game. The Padres were playing the Giants. Juan Marichal pitched, Willie Mays was in center, and Willie McCovey was at first! All of these superstars were amongst the greatest players of the day!

Jump forward forty years to 2009. The Mariners had a new GM and a new manager. They also had an old, familiar face as that was the year Ken Griffey Jr. rejoined the team with which he began his illustrious career. He no longer played center field, but was primarily the designated hitter. He had struggled with the bat that season, so it was thought that he would retire that year.

I wanted my then four year old granddaughter, Elliana, to be able to say she saw him play, so she, Papa Mike, and I made our way north to see the final game of the season against the Texas Rangers.

I gave her the money to buy the tickets so we could sit in "Area 51," which was the right field bleachers behind where Ichiro, number 51, patrolled the field. With Ichiro in right field, Griffey as the DH, and Felix Hernandez on the mound, her first game included three likely Hall of Fame players, the same as mine did.

Before settling in for the game, we walked around beautiful Safeco Field, stopping in at the gift shop for some momentos for her, and getting some food and drinks to enjoy as we watched the game.

I doubt she has many, if any, memories of the game. Probably what she remembers most is taking two of her Papas to go see it. For me, though, the game included one of my favorite memories of her.

It was the bottom of the fifth inning. The score was tied at one. With two outs and runners on first and second, Franklin Gutierrez smashed a ground rule double to score Josh Wilson. The crowd responded with a thunderous roar!

Elliana immediately joined in the cheering and clapping, looked at me with her beautiful, innocent eyes, and asked "What are we clapping for, Papa Tom?"

That memory was worth so much more than the price of the tickets!

We would have several more opportunities to cheer, including Griffey getting a hit in the bottom of the eighth and then being replaced by a pinch runner so we could all give him a well deserved standing ovation for what we thought was the end of his amazing career! Elliana joined in like a veteran baseball fan every time the crowd responded to something on the field for the remainder of the game.

We have gone to several Mariners and Rainiers games since. She is also my favorite date to take to Seahawks games on the rare occasions I have landed tickets. She loves the atmosphere and cheering our teams on to victory.

She even has learned the games well enough that, these days, she knows what we are clapping for!

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