A Mariner Then, A Mariner Now, A Mariner Forever

Recently it was announced that Jay Buhner would become the third member named to the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. A Mariner for parts of 14 seasons, there are few people more deserving than good 'ol "Bone," says InsidethePark.com's Joe Kaiser.

Every human being has a destiny; it's just that most don't even realize it.

When Seattle Mariners' rightfielder Jay Buhner stood on the trampled Kingdome carpet and stared up into a sea of shaved heads in the bleachers above during all those memorable nights throughout the 1990s, he had to have known he had found his.

Ah, to relive Buhner Buzz Cut Night, even if only once.

Just as Junior Griffey was born to patrol centerfield, Buhner was put on this earth to gun-down the greedy baserunner trying to stretch a sure double into an iffy triple. More often than not, that worked in the Mariners' favor.

Anyone remember the play in 1996 when Buhner retrieved a ball hit by Milwaukee's Fernando Vina down the first base line and into the bullpen area, which was still in play at the Kingdome? I do. Buhner raced to the ball, picked it up on top of the pitcher's mound, and threw a perfect laser to third base.

Vina's head-first slide didn't matter. He was out by a mile on what initially appeared to be a sure triple.

Buhner's destiny, you see, was not just to play right field, but to do it in Seattle for the Mariners and for a city of fans that embraced him enough to shave their heads in his honor.

Those truly were the days, weren't they? The post '95 days at the Kingdome, when Seattle fans loved baseball enough to endure the crappy home "ballpark" on a nightly basis. The time when bright summer days turned into grey afternoons played under a concrete roof. The era of the obstructed view box seat and the $5 Kingdog.

Jay Buhner was that era. He may not have brought the fans to the ballpark to the same degree as Griffey, or have received the national attention that the M's centerfielder did, but he was every but as much a part of Seattle baseball.

Traded to the Mariners at the age of 23 on July 21, 1988 by the New York Yankees in return for Ken Phelps, he played in Seattle until his knees and feet could no longer keep up with his heart.

The M's dream season of 2001 was Buhner's last, an injury-riddled year in which the man affectionately known as "Bone" recorded just 49 at bats. His career had ended at the age of 37.

I remember the night that dream season came to an end, listening to Buhner on the radio while weeping in my car in a vacant University of Washington parking lot. It was bad enough to know the year was over for the M's. Knowing Bone would never play again, and hearing that emotion in his voice after the game - him knowing it was all over - was just simply too much.

In all, Buhner lasted 13-and-a-half seasons in Seattle, providing fans with memories that will last a lifetime.

Like the moonshot homerun he delivered at Yankee Stadium that caromed off a parked ambulance, a historic blast still mentioned every time the M's travel to the House that Ruth Built.

Or The Catch at Fenway, where Bone reached high over the small green fence in right to haul in a would-be Red Sox homer, only to fall over it into the bullpen. It was ruled an out, one of the most memorable in M's history.

Or the day Buhner hit for the cycle, one of only three M's to achieve the feat.

Bone ended his career with 310 homers, all but three coming with the M's, a .254 average and 965 RBI.

As one of the greatest players to ever suit up in Seattle, it was recently announced that Buhner will become the newest inductee into the M's Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled for August 24 at Safeco Field prior to a game against Tampa Bay.

He will join Alvin Davis and Dave Niehaus, the only other members in the team's Hall of Fame.

For a player like Bone, the consummate professional in his years in the Pacific Northwest, it's hard to imagine someone more deserving.

This guy found his destiny, and if he ever needs any proof the only place he has to look is in the Mariners Hall of Fame.

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