Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager motions to fans after a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager motions to fans after a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seager calls emotional farewell ‘really special’

The Mariners’ longtime third baseman likely played his final game with the franchise Sunday.

By Ryan Divish / The Seattle Times

The chants started in the top of the ninth inning with many of the fans understanding that a comeback wouldn’t matter with the Red Sox about to prevail in Washington, D.C.

“Kyle Seager! Kyle Seager!”

They grew louder and louder as the rest of the stadium joined in to salute the longtime third baseman in what was likely his last time wearing a Mariners uniform.

“Kyle Seager! Kyle Seager!”

“When we went out there for the ninth, I just saw Boston taking the lead, and it kind of hit me a little bit that you know this may be the end,” he said. “I heard a couple chants over, and I started getting emotional.”

And when he acknowledged them with a thumbs-up, a hat-tip and a thank you, it drew a roar from the crowd of 44,229.

“I tried to kind of wave and show my appreciation,” he said. “That kind of made it worse, to be honest with you, because then I just started getting more emotional. They kept getting louder. It was really special.”

And they continued.

“Kyle Seager! Kyle Seager!”

And then with one out in the inning, manager Scott Servais was notified that the Red Sox had won and his team was eliminated from the postseason. He called timeout and walked on the field to alert home plate umpire Dan Iassogna that he was making a change at third base and replacing Seager with Donovan Walton.

“Knowing that he may not get an at-bat in the final inning for us, I thought it was the right thing to do,” Servais said. “Kyle’s brought consistency and the ability to write his name in the lineup every day. I think a lot of our players learn that from him. Players seeing that and understanding the value of that, if you want to put up numbers in this game, you’ve got to play every day. It’s hard to do that physically and mentally. That’s what Kyle has been able to do since he’s been a Mariner.”

As the sellout crowd rose in an ovation, the chants still going, Seager walked to the mound to hug teammates that had grown into lifelong friends.

“There was really no stopping me at that point,” he said. “I was pretty, pretty much a mess.”

Seager’s eyes filled with tears and his teammates couldn’t hold back their tears as he gave hug after hug. It validated his concept of being a good teammate.

“When guys start getting choked up and talking about the impact that I’ve had, it means a lot to me,” Seager said. “It really does. J.P. (Crawford) kind of got me going early, and it was tough for me for the rest of the way.”

Crawford, who calls Seager “Cap,” broke down in tears when asked about him in a postgame interview on ROOT Sports.

“Cap’s been with me my three or four years over here, and I wouldn’t be in this spot today without him,” Crawford said stepping away from the mic to gather himself. “We wouldn’t be in this spot without him. Hell of a leader, better teammate and even better friend.”

Asked earlier this week about not seeing Seager at third base when he looked to his right, Crawford said: “I don’t want to think it. I can’t think about it.”

Seager told Servais early in the season that the focus of leadership should turn to Crawford because of his energy, emotion and competitiveness.

“I’m ready,” Crawford said. “I’ve learned everything from Kyle. I’m ready to take that spot. I’m ready to lead this team.”

When he was struggling in his first call up, rookie Jarred Kelenic would find his way to Seager’s locker after games, seeking advice and help.

“He just broke things down the way, and it sounds weird, but like as a parent would,” Kelenic said. “With me being super young and not really knowing any better about Major League Baseball, when to me it seemed like such a big deal, to Seag it wasn’t. He would break it down why. He knew how to do it very well.”

It was a full day for Seager. His 7-year-old son, Crue, threw out the ceremonial first pitch with his wife, Julie, and his two daughters, Audrey and Emelyn, watching.

“The arm strength was good, but you know he (Crue) was pretty upset that he bounced it,” Seager said. “He’s funny. He was so nervous going out there. The throw wasn’t what made him nervous, it was just the walking out there. He didn’t know what to do. It was a really, really special moment to have my son there and the whole day, it really was special.”

They stayed after the final out to take pictures on the field. Seager took pictures with the grounds crew and other staff.

Asked again about what he wants his legacy to be as a member of the Mariners, Seager still didn’t have an answer.

“You’ve got me twice with this question, it’s a tough one,” he said. “I want to be somebody that came to work every single day. Absolutely did his best and competed, not only tried to help myself, but help others and try to help everybody get better and make this team better off.”

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