Beyond Golf — 31 October 2017 by Jim Street
Alvin Davis earned Mr. Mariner tag

Former Mariner Alvin Davis turns back the clock to 1991 to find his Most Memorable Game.

(As told to Jim Street)

Alvin Davis performed so well for the Mariners during an eight-year career with the organization that he became known as “Mr. Mariner” and was the first player inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. A.D. was the American League’s Rookie of the Year in 1984 and earned an All-Star invitation that season. He played in 1,166 games for the Mariners, including one against the Texas Rangers on Oct. 2, 1991. Davis went 0-for-4 in the game, which the Mariners won 4-3, but he still calls it his most memorable game with Seattle. He explains why.

For the first time in almost eight years with the Mariners, I woke up that day realizing we had a chance to do something no other Mariners team had done – clinch a non-losing season.

During my big-league career, which started in 1984, we had never reached the 80-win plateau. But after winning two of the first three games in a four-game series against Texas, we reached 80 wins. Even better, by winning the series finale, we would not finish with a losing record for the first time ever.

There had been a few times before when we kind of in the hunt in August, but had not been able to get hot at the right time and make September games meaningful – by either being in a pennant race or getting to that 80-plus win plateau. We had won 78 games in 1987 and 77 in 1990.

In 1991 we had been right around the .500 mark for most of the season and even though we were on the verge of making franchise history, there weren’t any rah-rah speeches or anything like that going into the last week of the season. Even so, all of us knew that if we had a good series in Texas we had a good chance of getting that 81st win – and maybe more because we finished the season with three games against the Chicago White Sox.

Alvin Davis was AL Rookie of the Year in 1984

 

It had been a long time coming and even now, all these years later, being a part of the first Mariners team to win at least 81 games brings back great memories.

Just like everybody else, when we started Spring Training our hope was to win the division. Realistic or not, that was our goal every year. With the division alignment the way it was back then, the only way to make the playoffs was to win your division.

I like the three-division, wild-card format now, but back then, with eight teams competing in each division, if you weren’t in first, second or a not-too-distant third going into September, you were probably not going to contend for the division title.

By the middle of September, we realized that we would not reach our goal of winning the division. Even though we were disappointed about that we focused on having a good series against the Rangers. Going into Texas our record was 78-77 and there still was a historical goal for us to reach. We won the first game, lost the second and won the third, putting our record at 80-78. Just one more win.

I can’t remember a whole lot about each inning of that game, but I do recall that we fell behind early and were losing 3-0 after five innings, then scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh on catcher Dave Valle’s two-run double to take the lead. Valle was the hero of the night and it was so fitting because he had some tough years because of injuries and such.

In the ninth inning, Billy Swift came in from the bullpen to get the final out. We all shook hands on the field the same way we did after every win, but this win, number 81, was different. Anytime you have a come-from-behind win the way we did that night is cause of celebtration because you feel good about yourself as a team.

When we went into the clubhouse, the good feelings kept getting better. I remember Dave Niehaus’ description afterwards. He said, ‘The monkey, no make that the 800-pound gorilla, is off our backs!’ For the players, the reality of the accomplishment sank in. We congratulated each other and then the tears of joy began to flow.

It took us 14 years to have a non-losing season, but we finally got it done in Texas. Then we won two of three against the White Sox to finish at 83-79. A lot of guys on that team had been around awhile. We weren’t a bunch of newbies. We had always talked about ‘getting it done’ and we finally did by doing things we hadn’t been able to before, like coming from behind to beat a divisional rival late in the season.

We knew we had accomplished something. Not only had we overcome our own history, but we moved ourselves into that arena of respectability. That was a big deal in Mariners history and I’m still proud to say that I was part of it.

Jim Street covered the Mariners for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and MLB.com from 1986-2010. This story initially was published in Mariners Magazine.

Seattle Mariners 4, Texas Rangers 3

Game Played on Wednesday, October 2, 1991 (N) at Arlington Stadium

SEA    0 0 0   0 0 2   2 0 0 –   4   7   0

TEX    1 0 0   0 2 0   0 0 0 –   3    4   0

BATTING

Seattle Mariners             AB   R   H RBI    

Martinez 3b                       4      1      1      1

Reynolds 2b                      4       0     0     0

Griffey Jr. cf                      3       0     0     0

O’Brien 1b                          4       0     1      0

Davis dh                             4       0     0     0

Buhner rf                           3        1     2      0

Briley lf                              4        0     1      0

Vizquel ss                          3         1     0     0

Valle c                                3         1      2     2

Fleming p                          0        0      0     0

Bankhead p                      0         0      0     0

Jackson p                          0        0      0      0

Swan p                              0        0       0      0

Swift p                              0        0        0      0

Totals                             32       4        7      3

FIELDING –

DP: 1. O’Brien-Vizquel-O’Brien.

BATTING –

2B: Valle 2 (8,off Guzman 2); E. Martinez (35,off Guzman); O’Brien (29,off

Guzman).

Team LOB: 4.

BASERUNNING –

SB: Briley (22,2nd base off Guzman/Rodriguez).

CS: Griffey Jr. (6,2nd base by Guzman/Rodriguez); Buhner (1,2nd base by Guzman/Rodriguez).

Texas Rangers                AB   R   H RBI  

Downing dh                      4      0     0    0

Franco 2b                          3       1     1     1

Sierra rf                             4      0      1     0

Gonzalez cf                       4      0      0    0

Fariss lf                              1      1       0    0

Reimer ph,lf                     1      0       0    0

Palmer 3b                         4      1        1     2

Stanley 1b                         2      0       0     0

Daugherty 1b                   1       0       0     0

Rodriguez c                      3       0       1     0

Hernandez ss                   2       0      0     0

Huson ph,ss                     1        0      0     0

Guzman p                         0        0     0     0

Totals                              30       3     4     3

FIELDING –

DP: 1. Rodriguez-Franco.

BATTING –

2B: Rodriguez (16,off Fleming).

HR: Franco (15,1st inning off Fleming 0 on 1 out); Palmer (15,5th inning off

Fleming 1 on 0 out).

GDP: Sierra (17,off Jackson).

Team LOB: 3.

BASERUNNING –

SB: Sierra (16,2nd base off Bankhead/Valle).

PITCHING

Seattle Mariners             IP     H   R ER BB SO HR BFP

Fleming                             4.2    3     3     3    1     5     2     18

Bankhead W (3-6)            2.1   1      0    0    1      1     0      9

Jackson                               1.1   0      0    0    1      1     0      4

Swan                                   0.1   0      0     0   0     0     0      1

Swift SV (17)                     0.1   0       0     0   0     0     0      1

Totals                                 9     4       3     3     3     7     2    33

Texas Rangers                  IP     H   R ER BB SO HR BFP

Guzman L (13-7)              9        7      4    4     3     7    0      35

WP: Guzman (8).

Umpires: HP – Ed Hickox, 1B – Drew Coble, 2B – John Shulock, 3B – Gary Cederstrom

Time of Game: 2:30   Attendance: 12,273

 

 

 

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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