Behind the scenes at Safeco Field
Two years ago, I got a random email from some random guy who told me that his fiancée worked in the Mariners front office — and that if I ever made it to Seattle when the team had an off-day, she’d give me a tour of Safeco Field.
Long story short: the guy came through. Just the other day, at 10 o’clock in the morning, he and his (now) wife met me near the home plate gate of the stadium. Here’s where we went and what I saw…
Let’s start with my Safeco Field visitor pass:
(Yes, I got to keep it when the tour was done.)
The photo above was taken inside the Diamond Club entrance. Do you see the small green lights in the distance? We headed in that direction and took an elevator down one level. (You know you’re going someplace special inside a stadium when you start at street level and then go down.) When the doors opened, this was the view:
I should mention that the random guy who emailed me is named Adam — he’s not so random after all — and his wife, whose name you can see on my visitor pass, is Heidi. They were both incredibly nice (giving me the tour in the first place) and patient (letting me stop and photograph everything while I limped around on crutches). It was great to finally meet them and get to know them a little bit.
We turned left and entered the actual Diamond Club:
After curving around the bar, I saw the following door and ramp:
We walked up the ramp. This was my view to the left:
After lingering there for a couple minutes, we headed back out of the Diamond Club, walked a short distance through the concourse, and entered this room:
How cool is that? It’s the media room where press conferences take place.
Here I am at table at the front:
This is what it looks like from that spot:
Do you see those gray steps/platforms at the back of the room? That’s where the cameras are normally set up.
I’ve gotten some sneak-peeks at other stadiums before, most recently Citizens Bank Park when I got to rub mud on baseballs with the Phillies’ equipment manager, but this was the first time that I’d ever seen the media room. Seriously cool.
Back in the concourse, I saw something else for the first time — something that I’d never even imagined. Have a look at the following photo, and then I’ll explain:
See the white line painted on the floor at the bottom of the photo? And do you see the person crouching off in the distance? That’s Adam. You’ll see a photo of him and Heidi in a minute, but anyway, did you notice the sign on the wall? Here’s a closer look at it:
I’m not sure if other teams do this, but basically, the Mariners have designated an area in the concourse where the lucky folks who get to throw ceremonial first pitches can warm up and practice.
Right near this area, there was a sign and a door…
…that led to the field. On the way, we passed the visitors clubhouse:
Unfortunately, because the Mariners had just played at Safeco the day before and were going to host another series starting the next day, there were some players around, so we weren’t allowed to enter the clubhouse. (Frowny face.)
We weren’t allowed to enter the umpires room either…
…but I was able to get up close and photograph the signs. Here’s the one next to the door…
…and here’s the one on the door:
By the way, did you notice that the “umpires room” sign has braille on it?
Here’s the tunnel that leads to the field:
Once we reached the warning track, I took a photo of Adam and Heidi:
(Standing ovation for Adam and Heidi!)
Then I entered the visitors’ dugout…
…and noticed the following sheet of paper on the bulletin board:
I really wanted to take it, but Heidi told me she didn’t want to get fired, so I reluctantly left it behind. I couldn’t argue with a women who works for the Mariners and was giving me a private tour of the stadium and, you know, wanted to keep her job. But I did have fun messing with her and talking about breaking every imaginable rule. Lawnmower? Hey! “I’m gonna ride that and mow some crazy patterns into the outfield grass.” Random piece of equipment sitting around? Oh boy! “I’m gonna take that and add it to my collection.” Et cetera. Heidi was cool about it and (perhaps somewhat nervously) laughed off my exuberance.
Going back to the previous photo for a moment, do you know why there’s a phone for the press box? I’ll tell you why: It’s there so the players can call the official scorekeeper and kvetch about his decisions. (“You called THAT an error?!?!”) No joke. In extreme cases, players have made crude gestures at the press box from first base after their would-be hits have been ruled errors.
As we exited the dugout, there was a groundskeeper blowing dirt off the home plate cutout:
Adam took my picture on the warning track…
…and again in the left field corner:
(Damn those crutches. It’s been 16 days since I sprained my ankle, and I still need them.)
This was the view from the warning track as we headed toward center field:
Along the way, I noticed that the outfield wall was patched up in lots of places:
At first I thought the holes were the result of outfielders puncturing the padding with their spikes, you know, when jumping and climbing up in an attempt to rob home runs, but then I saw one near the top of the wall (just below the yellow stripe) and didn’t know what to think. Could baseballs have made all those holes? Unlikely, right?
Here’s the bench inside the visitors’ bullpen…
…and here’s a look inside the Mariners’ bullpen:
It was weird to be standing in the spot where players and coaches had been tossing balls to me over the previous three days.
Here’s what home plate looks like from the edge of the warning track in dead center:
The batting cage was tucked behind between the outfield wall and batter’s eye:
As we headed toward home plate along the right field foul line…
…look who appeared in the dugout and walked past us in the opposite direction:
Can’t tell who that is?
Here’s another photo:
It was 11am on an off-day, and The Man was at the stadium, stretching and running and eventually throwing — and who-knows-what-else-ing. Incredible.
Check out the phones in the Mariners’ dugout:
GM Suite?! What’s that all about? If a rookie makes an error and strikes out in his first three-at bats, does the GM call down to the dugout and tell the guy that he’s gonna be demoted if he whiffs again?
Adam and Heidi only had about 10 more minutes, so we had to pick up the pace at that point. (It was my own fault for being on crutches and then stopping every five seconds to take pictures.)
Our final stop was the press level. Here’s the concourse up there:
Here’s the press box itself…
…and this is the view from the first row of seats:
That’s pretty much it.
Sorry if this blog entry felt rushed, but my whole life is rushed at the moment. As I sit here typing this, I’m on an overnight JetBlue flight from Portland, Oregon to Boston. (I won’t be able to post the entry until later. No WiFi on the plane.) I can’t tell if it’s 3:40am or 6:40am, but either way, I’m tired as all hell, and I’ll be at Fenway Park in a matter of hours. I was just in Portland for three days. Before that I was in Seattle for three days, and before that I was in Denver for four days. I had hoped to post this entry 24 hours earlier, but simply didn’t have the time or energy. In any case, the Safeco Field tour was incredible. As much as I enjoy being inside major league stadiums, I love being inside empty stadiums even more. Thumbs-up to the Mariners and huge thanks to Adam and Heidi for making it happen.