This is part III of an interview with Kevin Kalal, a long-time member of the Tacoma Rainiers’ front office, about the ’95 Mariners and that year’s Tacoma Rainiers. Parts I and II of this interview can be seen here and here.
Arne: Do you have any particular memory of the Mariners’ ’95 run?
Kevin: There is one thing, a game I guess no one remembers, but it was one of those wins crucial to getting the Mariners in that playoff.
Bill Krueger pitched 10 games with us, and then one day someone got injured or maybe a starter got blown out of a game early [it was Randy Johnson missing a start because of a shoulder injury]. And the Mariners called to have him come down as a spot starter, and he had a huge game against the A’s down in Oakland. I remember I always thought that win, so unexpected, that it was such a huge game to getting the Mariners the tie with the Angels, but it never got played up in the media. The Mariners’ thought well, he’s 37, let’s run him out here, see what happens. And he threw a lights out game, so it was an unexpected win. I always think about that stuff, but nobody really remembers the game. It was on August 6, a 15-8 win, it was a Sunday afternoon getaway game. They were 11 games back. He pitched 5 2/3rds innings, gave up two runs and beat Todd Stottlemyre who was having a strong year.
Arne: Did you go to any of the playoff games?
Kevin: I didn’t go to the Yankees games. I went over to Washington State to visit friends and watch a football game. During game 3 I was watching a volleyball game. Then there was game 4, Edgar’s grand slam after the football game. For game 5, I was driving home, on a Sunday afternoon, and as I hit Snoqualmie Pass the radio signal went out. It was the seventh inning, and I thought “I won’t check again until I get home.” I figured it would be over by then. So I got home and it’s the 8th inning. Then I went out to pay my rent at the front office before it closed on Sunday evening and as I was walking back I hear a bunch of yelling and screaming. The Double, and I missed it. I went to two of the Indians games. I have champagne bottles from the celebrations after the Angels playoff and the Yankees series.
You know, in ’01 it was the same thing, the same excitement. What are the M’s doing? Everyone wanted to know, even after they’d clinched the division. And we were really good too, we tied for the PCL title, an 85-65 record. It was still a split season then, but they didn’t have a playoff because of 9/11. That year was the pinnacle of a collective effort throughout the organization. We had all worked together for years and years and years, everyone at all levels of the team, and it came to that point. When Bill Bavazi came in as the general manager the organization started to change fairly dramatically. A lot of the key front office personnel and player development staff started leaving the organization.