Mariners fans James Muramoto, 29 and brother Matt Kopp, 23, sit at the dining room table at their family’s home on Thursday, in Everett. Muramoto said he has been a lifelong Mariners fan thanks to the passion of his late grandmother Edie Galen. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mariners fans James Muramoto, 29 and brother Matt Kopp, 23, sit at the dining room table at their family’s home on Thursday, in Everett. Muramoto said he has been a lifelong Mariners fan thanks to the passion of his late grandmother Edie Galen. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Playoff fever: A 21-year wait is over for long-suffering Mariners fans

For M’s fans in Everett, the end of a postseason drought feels “like the World Series” and “like everybody’s dream had come true.”

EVERETT — James Muramoto was 8 when the Seattle Mariners last made the postseason.

The Mariners won an all-time record 116 games in 2001, only to lose to a New York Yankees dynasty in the American League Championship Series.

In the 21 years since, Muramoto never lost faith in the team, even during some difficult losing seasons. And there were plenty of those.

Starting Friday, baseball’s postseason will include the Mariners again.

“My friends always said it wouldn’t happen, but I believed,” Muramoto said. “It is not the World Series, yet, but to a Mariners fan who has been waiting 21 years it feels like the World Series.”

The Mariners are the only current Major League Baseball team to have never played in the World Series.

Fifth-seed Seattle (90-72) will open a best-of-three American League Wild Card series against the Blue Jays (92-70) in Toronto. Games will be played at 1:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 11:07 a.m. Sunday, if necessary.

Winning the Wild Card round is the first step to advancing in baseball’s postseason, expanded for the first time this year from 10 to 12 teams. The six teams from each league include three division winners and three wild card teams. Under the new format, all three games are scheduled to be in Canada because the Blue Jays had a better regular season record.

Can’t make it to Toronto?

Mariners fans can attend the watch parties at T-Mobile Park for $10, or $5 for season-ticket members, with stadium garage parking going for $10.

Sports bars and tribal casinos with sports betting will be hot spots during the games, as will corner taverns, break rooms and anywhere there’s streaming.

St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols, who hit his 703rd home run Monday, was a rookie when the Mariners last made the playoffs in 2001. President George W. Bush was starting his first term. It was the longest active playoff drought in the MLB, NFL, NBA or NHL.

Alicia Bates was at T-Mobile Park last Friday when Cal Raleigh’s walk-off home run in the ninth inning gave Seattle a 2-1 win over the Oakland Athletics, clinching the postseason in dramatic fashion.

Nobody wanted to leave, Bates said.

“It was like everybody’s dream had come true and we all witnessed it,” said Bates, 36, an Everett dental hygienist. “Everyone was high-fiving each other and jumping up and down. Nobody left. Everyone stayed in the stadium. My dad texted me, ‘You just witnessed history.’”

She priced what it would cost to go to Toronto, but decided to make do with seeing the game here, likely at a watch party at T-Mobile Park.


If the Mariners make it to the World Series, Bates said she’s “absolutely” going.

Ditto for Muramoto.

Muramoto, 29, of Everett, a Graybar electrical salesperson, went to his first Mariners game when he was 2 years old with his grandparents.

He still has the ticket stubs.

“My grandma taught me everything about sports and especially the Mariners,” he said. “She would let me stay up late watching games with her. I remember her yelling at the TV. My favorite was when Joel Piñeiro was here and had pitched bad. ‘You pinhead!’ she would yell.”

The games were a family tradition.

“Opening Day, we would always make hot dogs and mac and cheese, and we would always get our hopes up just to be let down, but we never gave up faith,” Muramoto said.

“There’s a lot of nostalgia looking back on some of my happiest times as a kid,” said his brother, Matt Kopp, 23.

Their grandmother, Edie Galen, died in 2014.

Muramoto’s mementos include her Mariners cookbook signed by catcher Dan Wilson.

“When they clinched the playoffs this year I lost it, bawling my eyes out,” Muramoto said. “Grandma would have been so proud.”

Just Sports assistant manager Jose Romero said the Mariners win is a win for the Everett Mall store.

“It’s better for us, more sales,” he said.

The store has Mariners caps, shorts and shirts.

Romero said there has been an uptick in baseball card sales.

“A guy came in and bought two packs of $244 Chrome baseball cards,” he said. The anniversary box has 24 packs of cards and an autographed card.

Bring on the bling with a chunky coil chain necklace and a giant logo bauble for $38.99.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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