A Conversation With Mariners Announcer Tom Hutyler: Ken Griffey Jr., the Indians Series, and the Kingdome

My conversation with Mariners public address announcer Tom Hutyler continued by comparing the ’95 and ’01 Mariners and talking about the Kingdome, his signature announcement of Ken Griffey Jr., and the 1995 ALCS. Here’s part two of our conversation (see part one here):

Arne: I know most people have fonder memories of the ’95 season than the ’01 season. Is it the same way for you?

Tom: Oh, yes. In 2001 it was not a new deal. The drama of what happened in 1995 wasn’t there. 2001 was a foregone conclusion from May or June onward. We had the All-Star game, and the Mariners had eight or nine players on the team. The only question was would they reach the 116-game record. Then 9/11 happened, and people knew it wasn’t so important how many wins they had. 1995 was so much more impactful, so unlikely, such a storybook ending. There was the fantastic finish, the underdog coming up from nowhere. Actually the most dramatic game after ’95, I’d say, was the game against the White Sox, Carlos Guillen’s bunt to win the game. That was the end of the 2000 playoffs against Chicago.

Arne: Was it sometimes a drag coming into the Kingdome in the summer?

Tom: Sure, it could be. In the summer, during the really lean years, you’d have 4,000 people on an August afternoon. I didn’t really need a microphone; I could have just leaned out the booth and shouted: everyone would have heard me. The sunny, warm days are few and far between here. People would say, “I should be out on a boat, in a park, somewhere outside,” enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather. Sometimes I’d wish the same.

Arne: People tend to overlook the Indians series when they think about the ’95 season. Is there a particular memory you cherish from those games?

Tom: I was just going to say, Wolcott’s performance in game 1 was amazing. It’s too bad he could never recapture that performance. There was such promise for the future with him. Buhner’s performance that series was pretty remarkable. We thought the Mariners were going to go on to win the World Series. The series had a lot of emotional highs and lows. The Indians had a lot of talent. Looking up and down that lineup, you saw really good players, really good pitchers.

Arne: I noticed that even late in game 6 the Mariner were down just 1-0, and you thought maybe this will be like the Yankees comeback. I think the Mariners would have played game 7 at the Kingdome. So, with Griffey coming back to the team, are you anticipating announcing his name again?

Tom: That was the first name I introduced that became imitated by people. Scott Bradley, who was a catcher for a few years with the team, told me, “You know you’ve made it when that happens.” Out on the streets, people would stop me and ask me to do “Ken Griffey Junior.” I’ve had a lot of people ask about my response to him coming back to Seattle. So it’s kind of like a singer getting to do a hit song again, on a much smaller scale of course. I’m really looking forward to it. In 2007 I did, but it was different because he was with the visiting team. I think it’ll be really fun.

My son’s 18, he was 9 when Griffey left, and my daughter’s 27. He was a big part of their lives. So they’re happy he’s back, and it’ll be good. The only drawback is that issue about how you can’t go home again, you can’t replicate that feeling of however many years ago. He might hit a few of those high-arching homers, but the catches in center field aren’t going to happen again. But I think people are smart enough to know he’s not the same man now; they can’t expect the same things to happen, and maybe it’s enough just to have him back.

(go back and read part one)

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