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:

Sweeeeeet!

TIME OUT…

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.

TIME IN…

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:

Brilliant!

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?

Heh.

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:

ICHIRO!!!

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.

19 Comments

Awesome entry, Z! I LOVE the # 331 pic of you with the outstretched crutches. It’s geometrically pleasing. I think it might even be website worthy…

Another impressive visit to a stadium and well written blog piece. Love the behind the scenes access and the writing.
Your work makes me wish I loved the game more and knew every thing about it.
The table picture is sweet. I’m happy you didn’t pull out the Nixon peace signs.

If you knew real Japanese, you could have said a few words to Ichiro

Some of the outfield wall marks are from baseballs, the advertisements being pasted on and painted over make the wall brittle over time. I was on the field at Petco the other day and there are hundreds of them and I asked the same question.

Nice. Concise.

Wow! Great entry.
On another note, I went to the A’s Giants game agian on Sunday anad I got 7 baseballs this time. I don’t know if you know, but the A’s catcher hit a homerun in the 8th inning and the guy who caught it was sitting 5 rows behind me. I raced up to try to catch it, but was a split second too late. :( Overall in the three-game series, I got 20 balls. Thought I might was well share.
nick

Nice! The photo of Ichiro is great. THAT shows why he is THE MAN. 11am on an off day and he is out working. Straight up baller.

WOW my respect for Ichiro has gone way up. Thanks for the wonderful entry, enjoyed reading it.

One of my friends took part of that tour. They took a picture in the press room.

Maybe you should become a Mariners fan. That would be excellent.

GO MARINERS!!

Hey Zack, my crutches twisted today because Max beat me up. Just kidding, a log fell on them at the beach when I was hopping around on one foot. Where did you say you bought your crutches again?

Zack,
Love reading the blog! This is a bit unrelated, but I read your posts on going to Rangers Ballpark this year and getting in 30 minutes earlier than the general public. I am getting ready for a two day trip to Rangers Ballpark and having bought my tickets on Stub Hub but have no clue how to take advantage of this great snagging opportunity. How were you able to get in with the season ticket holders? Thanks for the help!

Wow that is sweeettt.

BIBBY-
Website worthy?! Damn. I hadn’t considered that, but now I’ll give it another look.

LINCOLN-
Great to see you here in the comments section! Didn’t even know you ever looked at my blog. Maybe you saw the link on Twitter? Anyway, thanks and hope to see you soon.

TIM-
Yeah, so much for that.

LAKEERIE92-
Cool. Thanks for letting me know.

JOE-
Nod.

NICK-
Congrats. That’s an impressive total. Too bad about the homer, though.

AARON-
Ha, so true.

FS-
You’re welcome. Thanks.

JOE-
Oh yeah? I didn’t know that it was part of the standard tour.

TODD-
Let me think about that…

MAX VAN HOLLEBEKE-
Oh yeah.

LUKE VAN HOLLEBEKE-
That sucks. I got mine at a pharmacy in NYC that specializes in medical supplies. I doubt that helps, but there you have it.

COOPER-
Season ticket holders there are able to bring guests inside (one per person), so just try to make friends with someone standing in the “Season Ticket Holder Entrance” line. That’s how I’ve done it.

MLBLOGSBIGGESTRANGERFAN-
Thanks.

Thanks again for the Safeco Field Visitor Pass.

You’re welcome! Congrats on being the first person on Twitter to respond when I offered to give it away.

This is very cool! I just toured Safeco field on the regular tour. I got to see the visitors clubhouse and umpire clubhouse. Great blog! How do I sign up?

Jerry White

Thanks, Jerry, but I’m not sure what you mean by “signing up.” There might be some way to screw around with the settings so that you get an email whenever I post a new entry, but I don’t know how that works. All I can suggest is checking in on my blog from time to time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 314 other followers