History of the Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners have not been very successful in their 36 year history. They did not win any post-season series in their first 19 years and, since 1995, the Mariners have won only three American League West Division titles and one American League Wild Card spot. Their last win was in 2001.

The Mariners, established in 1977, became the second major league baseball team to play in Seattle, but the first team, the Seattle Pilots, played only for a very short time before leaving the city and becoming the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. Seattle and the state of Washington responded to the Pilots' move out of Seattle with a lawsuit against the American League. After six years of battling the lawsuit, the American League agreed to establish a major league franchise in Seattle. One of the owners of the new Seattle Mariners was Danny Kaye.

Like many new teams, the Mariners struggled in their first years. They finished with a 64-98 record in 1977. Four years later, the team was purchased by George Argyros. However, even with new ownership and strong players like pitching ace Gaylord Perry, the Mariners struggled. They consistently ended with losing records and diminishing attendance at their home games. In 1988, the team's ownership changed again, this time to a group led by Jeff Smulyan. The one bright spot for the team at the end of the 1980s was the debut of Ken Griffey, Jr.

The Mariners had a turnaround in 1991 when, under manager Jim Lefebvre, they finished the season with an 83-79 record. But, even with a winning record, the Mariners finished in fifth place in the American League West division. That fact ended the managing career of Lefebvre in Seattle. His replacement, Bill Plummer, did not help the Mariners advance in the standings and he was fired after the team lost 98 games in 1992. During the 1992 season, the Mariners were bought by a group that included the CEO of Nintendo.

In 1993, the Mariners' new owners made a move that greatly impacted the team's future success. Lou Piniella was hired as the new manager and by 1994, his leadership and managerial skills started to bring results to the team. Unfortunately, a players' strike that year ended the season in August, when the Seattle Mariners were only two games behind the American League West division leaders, the Texas Rangers.

The Mariners started the 1995 season with Griffey in the outfield and pitcher Randy Johnson leading the team's starting rotation. An injury to Griffey early in the season didn't seem to hurt the Mariners, but they struggled later in the year. Still, Piniella did not give up and he eventually led the team to their first post-season games. The Mariners faced the formidable New York Yankees in the American League Division series and their determination and a final fifth game-winning double by Edgar Martinez to drive in two runs gave the Seattle Mariners their first division title. They went on to the American League Championship series but lost to the Cleveland Indians.

The 1996 season brought a new young rookie, Alex Rodriguez, to the Mariners. The power hitting of Griffey, Rodriguez and Martinez were not enough to lead the Mariners to victory in 1996, but, in 1997, they won their second American League West division title. They lost the pennant, however, to the Baltimore Orioles.

The next two seasons were losing ones for the Mariners. They still had a strong offense but a weak pitching staff ultimately led to their defeat. At his request, Randy Johnson was traded in the 1998 mid-season, and a year later, Griffey requested, and was granted, a trade to the Cincinnati Reds.

The 2000 season once again ended with post-season play for the Mariners, as they earned the American League Wild Card spot. The team, led by the hitting of A-Rod, Martinez and Rickey Henderson and with Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia on the mound, defeated the Chicago White Sox in the division series but then fell to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship series.

The Mariners started the 2001 season without A-Rod, who had left as a free agent to the Texas Rangers. However, the team acquired a new player from Japan, Ichiro Suzuki, who would prove to be as valuable to the Mariners as A-Rod or Griffey were. The Mariners had a great 2001 season, ending with a tie for the record of most wins in modern major league baseball. Their 116 wins tied the Chicago Cubs' record from 1906. The Mariners, behind MVP, Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove winner Ichiro Suzuki, won the American League West division title. They could not, however, defeat the New York Yankees for the American League pennant.

The Mariners faced disappointments at the end of the 1992 season. Although they played well that season, they did not progress to post-season play. Then their long-time manager, Lou Piniella, left Seattle to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The departure of Piniella ended the Mariners' post-season play. From 2003 to 2008, the team did not win any division series or a Wild Card spot.

From 2004 until today, the Seattle Mariners have undergone several significant changes. Many of their older players were traded in 2004 and, at the end of the season, Piniella's replacement, Bob Melvin, was fired and replaced by Mike Hargrove. Ownership of the team switched in November, 2004 to Nintendo of America as the sole owners.

With the exception of Ichiro, most of the Mariners' players in recent years have been new faces to Seattle. The end of the 2008 season saw even more changes, including a new general manager, Jack Zduriencik, and a new field manager, Don Wakamatsu. Eric Wedge, the current Mariners manager, was hired before the start of the 2011 season.

Source for Information
Wikipedia - Seattle Mariners