The Kids Club of Jefferson County took 20 kids to Seattle for a Mariners game during Kids Night at the T-Moble arena July 24. Operations Manager Caren Smith set up the entire adventure with the help of Kids Club staff and volunteers.
Kids and staff left the club early Wednesday morning to watch a 12:45 game against the Texas Rangers. I drove one van and Kids Club staff drove the other van. When we drove close to the Portland area, the kids were amazed at a highway that had three lanes. That was the moment I knew these kids were in for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
After a very long drive, we finally arrived at the stadium around 11 a.m. A parade for kids to walk around the warning track at the field lasted until 11:30 a.m.
The youngsters were able to witness how large a professional stadium actually is and watched in awe as professional players warmed up on the field. Every kid had a different perspective and interest as we walked along the fence.
Some couldn't believe what they were seeing, others took note of how many left-handed throwers there were, and some were just amazed at the cool patterns the grass was cut into.
After the parade and walk around the field, we decided to take the kids to one of the merchandise stores, where kids bought everything from hats and shirts, to necklaces and mini wooden bats.
Once everyone had proper Mariners attire, the crew walked around the stadium looking at all the different food vendors and attractions the stadium had. We stopped at the statue of Dave Niehaus, a famous announcer, who was the voice of the Mariners from 1977 until 2010, when he passed away.
We eventually found our way to our seats, which were near the field in rows 25 and 26, section 116. Once in our seats, the kids filled up on sack lunches and everyone was extremely excited and energetic about the start of the game.
The national anthem soon played and fireworks went off, signaling the start of the game. Kids were very interested in the game at the start. Some yelled loudly for the Ms, others asked me which team they were supposed to root for and what were the names of the teams playing.
Through four innings of professional baseball the score between the Mariners and Rangers was 0-0. Kids soon became restless and uninterested, asking how long the game lasts or when we were leaving.
Everything changed in the bottom of the fifth inning, when 6-foot, 250-pound Daniel Vogelbach hit a 393-foot homer over the right field fence. The kids jumped up and down, while fireworks and an instant replay was shown on the big screen.
The Mariners must have felt the energy in the crowd because they scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kids reestablished focus and the game became a classic memory.
In the top of the sixth inning, Venezualan Rougned Odor crushed a 394-foot bomb over the fence for a three-run homer. Odor's home run kept the game close at 4-3, with the Ms holding on to a small lead.
The very next inning, Vogelbach stepped up to bat once again. The kids remembered this was the same guy that hit a homer and were cheering for an encore and that is exactly what happened. Vogelbach hit another solo home run over the right field fence, only this time it traveled 422 feet.
Every Kids Club kid was standing on his or her feet cheering and yelling. I thought that would be the highlight and best moment the kids would have, but it wasn't.
Soon the game was coming to an end, but before it did, the camera man chose the Kids Club of Jefferson County to be on the jumbo screen in front of the entire stadium. That was the highlight of the day for the kids.
"I thought it was really cool that we were on the big screen because people didn't really know about Kids Club," said Kids Club member Gabby Torres. "We are from a small town, and nobody thought a small town would be on the big screen or in a town like Seattle. It was awesome! I liked It! We represent Kids Club, being good kids from Madras Oregon."
The game ended and the Mariners came away with a 5-3 victory. Kids were now sad the game was over and they had to head home.
"The game was pretty cool," Kids Club member Merrick Towers said. "We were able to buy a lot of stuff. I bought a necklace, food and a drink. Seattle was pretty cool and there are sure a lot of restaurants there. Everything was pretty great; I would like to go again. Watching the game was the best thing."
We took a few more pictures on the way out, then hit the road again back to Madras.
"I have been to a couple Mariners games before, but during this one we got to walk around the field," Kids Club member Macey Curley said. "We got to see all the players warm up! I liked Seattle, but hate how there is a lot of people there. The players hitting the home runs was my favorite part. The trip was so much fun!"
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