5/29/99 at the Kingdome

Two weeks ago I blogged about a game I attended at Shea Stadium in 1996. Last week I blogged about a game I attended at Tiger Stadium in 1998. Now I’m taking you to Seattle in 1999 . . .

At the start of the 1999 season, I knew that the Kingdome’s days were numbered, but I didn’t realize just how numbered. I’d never been there, and I really wanted to go for a couple of games, but I figured I had all summer to plan a trip. Safeco Field was still under construction, and I assumed that it would open in 2000. As it turned out, Safeco was nearly done by the spring of 1999, and I discovered in May that the Mariners were planning to start playing there after the All-Star break! I had two choices: buy a last-minute plane ticket and get my ass to Seattle or “be responsible” and just forget about it. To complicate things, my college girlfriend, Alli, was staying with me and my parents for the summer, and the thought of leaving her for a weekend didn’t seem right. Long story short: I went to the Kingdome and brought her with me. Hell, it wasn’t cheap, but I’d recently made some money from How To Snag Major League Baseballs. And that’s what money’s for right?

Anyway, on the morning of May 29, 1999, Alli and I woke up insanely early in New York, headed to the airport, flew to Seattle, and got a ride to our hotel. On the way, I took several photos of both stadiums side by side. Here’s one . . .


. . . and here’s another . . .


. . . and another:


I don’t know if the word “fugly” had been invented by 1999, but it certainly should’ve been. There’s really no other way to describe the Kingdome — and yet I was thrilled to be there. Up to that point in my life, I’d been to 17 different major league stadiums and was already trying to visit as many as possible.

In the early afternoon, Alli and I made the short walk from our hotel to the dome. Here’s a photo of it that she took — look closely and you’ll see me leaning against a tree:


This was the scene shortly before the stadium opened:


It was Beanie Baby Day, so there were a zillion kids lined up outside the gates. Thankfully, we were not stuck at the end of that line.

(Alli and I each had summer jobs — she was working at the Argosy Book Store, and I was interning at Workman Publishing — so we had to make this trip on a weekend. In fact, we pretty much had to go on this particular weekend. There was no avoiding this dreadful promotion.)

When the stadium finally opened and I ran inside, a friendly usher pointed out a ball that was sitting in the front row along the left field foul line. Sweet! I was on the board.

The stands got crowded fast. There wasn’t much action. It was maddening, and when the Devil Rays took the field for batting practice, I decided to head to right field. (At the Kingdome, the visiting teams occupied the right side.) On my way out there, I caught a home run on the fly in left-center — no idea who hit it. I was so busy making my way through the crowded aisle that I didn’t see it coming ’til the last second.

Once I made it to right field, I got my third ball of the day thrown to me by Rick White. Then, toward the end of BP, I used my glove trick for ball No. 4 along the right field foul line. Some other kid with a device had beaten me earlier for a ball; he was nice enough to let me get this one.

Just before the game started, I worked my way down to the Mariners’ dugout on the 3rd base side and got my 5th and final ball of the day from Butch Huskey . . . I think. It was tossed from under the dugout roof . . . and I was busy dealing with a rude usher . . . and Huskey had just disappeared from sight with a ball in his hand.

Look how crowded it was during the game:


Okay, fine, so the upper deck in right field had lots of empty seats . . .


. . . but still, the paid attendance was 38,093.

Here’s a photo of the field and roof . . .


. . . and here’s a look at the roof and speakers:


FUGLY!!! Right?

By the way, if you scroll four photos back, you can see Jeff Fassero warming up in the top of the 2nd inning. Better-known Mariners in this game: Alex Rodriguez (who went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored), Ken Griffey Jr. (0-for-4 with a walk and a run), and Edgar Martinez (2-for-5 with two RBIs). Lesser-known Mariners in this game: Charles Gipson (0-for-1 with a run scored), Jose Paniagua (two-thirds of a scoreless inning pitched), and Rafael Carmona (one inning pitched; one solo homer surrendered). The Devil Rays, meanwhile, had some superstars in the lineup such as Jose Canseco and Fred McGriff, along with a few guys that I don’t even remember, like Danny Clyburn and Mike Duvall. (Have you heard of Danny Clyburn and Mike Duvall? Be honest.)

Final score: Mariners 11, Devil Rays 5.

After the final out, Alli and I had our picture taken . . .


. . . and I collected a bunch of ticket stubs, including five that were different:


That’s pretty much it.

Alli and I went back the next day, and I snagged 14 balls. I don’t plan to blog about that game because (a) I didn’t take any photos and (b) I didn’t log each ball in my journal.

Speaking of my journal, here’s the beginning of my original handwritten entry from May 29, 1999:


The entry (which contains lots of details not mentioned on the blog) continues here . . .


. . . and here . . .


. . . and here . . .


. . . and here . . .


. . . and here . . .


. . . and ends here:


The precision with which I used words to document my life is astounding. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m *so* glad I did it. I know I missed out on some experiences because I was busy writing in my journal(s) — but the stuff I did write about is 100 times more memorable than it would’ve been. Of course, it also helps to have photos, and hey, as long as I’m blogging about Seattle, I might as well share two more pics from the breakfast that I mentioned in my journal. (I’m talking about the breakfast on May 30th — the day after this game.) Here’s a shot of me and Alli . . .


. . . and here’s a group photo of us with my friend Morgen and her boyfriend Matt:


That was the last time that I ever saw Morgen. Life is funny. Morgen Morie. We were freshmen together at Guilford College, and then she transferred. I wonder what became of her — where she lives and what she’s been doing for the last 14 years. I’m tempted to join Facebook just to try to find out. Anyone want to look her up for me? Am I being creepy? Just reminiscing about an old friend (and wishing I had a better sense of style). That’s all.


  1. Brian

    One more thing, I’m going to be down in the city in the next month or so with the wifey and kids for a weekend. Do you work at the book store on weekends? Would love to stop down and say hi! My 9 year old son would *love* to meet you!

  2. Zack Hample

    Whoa! I really oughta get on Facebook, huh? Glad to hear that you’re enjoying these entries. As for the blacked-out portions of my journal . . . I was being negative, not just about Alli, but about people in general. No need to share that crap with the world at this point. She was amazing, though. We were together for four years, and I still miss her. As for the book store, it’s never open on Sundays, and I’m rarely there on Saturdays. Send me an email and maybe we can find a way to make it work.

  3. Big Glove Bob

    Ahh, I miss domes. You are missing out by not being on Facebook. I am not real active on there, but when I decide to share nuggets of wisdom…they are not to be missed. You can ask Garrett about that.
    Big Glove Bob

  4. Cook & Son Bats

    Well, well, well…good to see you again, Kingdome, my old buddy. There are lots of things to say so how about a massively long, multi-part comment?
    1) To the extent anyone out there enjoys reading our little blog, you can indirectly thank Zack for going to this game. Back in 2007 when Tim was 2 and only had about 10 MLB games under his belt, I had never ever read a blog before – any blog. I certainly had never contemplated writing a blog. And, while I have always gone to BP my entire life and tried to catch baseballs, I had never even heard of a “ballhawk.” I used to google photos of the Kingdome late at night, because I missed my beautiful old second childhood-home. I’m pretty sure it was 2007 when I first came across “alli_zack_kingdome” (picture 10 below). I found that picture many times on google. Finally, late in 2008 (probably during the offseason before 2009), I asked myself, “Who are these Zack and Alli people and why am I always finding them at MY Kingdome!?” The google image was linked to zackhample.com. That lead me to the year-by-year pictures from Zack’s life. I clicked around and eventually found pictures of him at a bunch of stadiums. Eventually, my clicking lead to his blog. I loved the blog immediately because of all of the pictures showing random views of all of the MLB stadiums. I was already documenting all of Tim’s MLB experiences and taking lots of pictures at the games we attended. So when the 2009 season rolled around, it seemed natural that I should use the MLBlogs technology to take my game documenting to the next level. And it’s been great. When my boys are old men, they will know everything there is to know about every game they have ever attended. And it all goes back to Alli_Zack_Kingdome. So thanks, Zack.
    2) The sad part of this entry is that I realized this game was 2 days after I started the process of moving from Seattle to Philadelphia. I left Seattle on 5/27/99 and I was probably in Montana when you were at this game.
    3) As for the Kingdome, I don’t know what to say. I loved it, and still do. My feelings about the Kingdome are probably similar to Zack’s feelings about Shea. After they closed the Kingdome, I calculated that I probably spent 78 entire days of my life at the Kingdome. I’d pay a lot of money to be able to go back in time and give young Todd a digital camera and tell myself to photograph every inch of the Kingdome and all of my favorite ushers (btw, I assume I know who the usher was who hassled you behind the M’s dugout. She was actually very cool.)
    4) You mentioned that the LF seats were steep. That doesn’t seem right to me. They didn’t seem steep to me at all. They were traditional bleacher benches and it was easy to walk down a section over the bleachers (i.e., on top of the seats instead of walking on the ground). Now, the Metrodome, those were some steep steps. (PS – the Metrodome was awesome too!)
    5) I spent almost all of my BP time at the Kingdome in LF or 3B/LF foul territory. During most of the years of the Kingdome (as far as I recall, at least), the 3B line featured the Mariners dugout and the visitors bullpen. The last two sentences are background and possibly an explanation for my next comment: I don’t remember ever seeing a single person at the Kingdome with a ball retrieving device. Although, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Reading about the glove trick on this blog was really my first introduction to devices.
    6) One last comment, the rules at the Kingdome changed over time. The last bunch of years, you really could go anywhere with any ticket. But in the early days, they had a chain link fence in the concourse and a rope across the inside cross aisle at the LF and RF foul poles. If you sat in the infield you could go anywhere (which was good because the only Icee stand was in RF!) But if your seats were in the OF, you couldn’t get into the field level, not even the field level concourse.
    I better stop. I’ll save the rest and maybe I’ll write a book about the Kingdome some day.

  5. Brandon Ned

    Really enjoy reading your articles about some of the ballparks that were gone before me and my family (and especially my awesome parents) started taking us on baseball trips. Currently have seen 37 MLB stadiums and 2 MILB Stadiums. Somehow we have only crossed paths at a game once before, Zack!

  6. Nick Badders

    I really like the 5 different ticket stubs! Do you still have them? Do you know why there are 5 different designs? I would think it would have to do with seating areas, but I am not positive. Like I’ve said, I love these turn-back-the-clock entries! If you having any documentation from your games in Oakland in the late 90’s, I think it would be really cool to see an entry with stuff from one or all three of those games!

  7. Sad Pirates Fan

    Zack is the only guy I know that would write in a journal about taking a freaking dump in a hotel lobby. Unreal!

  8. Rays Renegade

    It is so wild how the change in stadium in the Emerald City was so night and day. Kingdome never let you know if it was raining, sunny or had a fair sea breeze bringing in the cooler air at night fall. Safeco, let’s just say do not forget a jacket and sometimes sunscreen on a afternoon game. Great town from SoDo to Belltown and up by the Ballard locks. Moving from the Kingdome saved baseball in that borough. If the city did not move to a new home, they would of gone 3,100+ miles to Tampa Bay. Still remarkable my second favorite stadium is 3,100+ miles to the NorthWest.
    Great entry Zack.

  9. Joshua McNeil

    I really like the posts from the older stadiums that aren’t here anymore. I’m wondering- do you still have that beanie baby?


  10. Craig

    “FUGLY!!! Right?”

    I might be one of the few Mariners fans who loved the Kingdome. I love Safeco field more, but Many Memories from the Kingdome that will always make me love their original home

  11. kim jones

    hi i was wondering if anyone can help me i have a rickey henderson bat and wondered if anyone knows of any collectors that would be interested in buying this from me thanks

  12. Zack Hample

    Whoa, did I really neglect to answer the last week’s worth of comments? My bad. But if you knew what I’ve been up to . . . hell, you’d be surprised to be hearing from me at all.

    Based on the nuggets you’ve left in comments here over the years, I don’t doubt it.

    Sorry. Some things are just too crude/negative to be shared.

    Thanks for the epic comment! To address each point individually . . .
    1) You’re welcome. Great to hear that story.
    2) Ouch.
    3) I’m sure she was cool. I just had a way of pissing people off.
    4) I probably wasn’t used to running around anywhere that steep in NYC.
    5) Hmm. I wonder when the device-craze got started.
    6) Just like Shea. The rules eased up over time. It used to suuuuuuck.

    Just once? How is that even possible? Maybe 2013 is our year.

    Yeah, I still have all these stubs. I scanned them specifically for this blog entry. Not sure about the different designs, but your theory seems solid. I do have some pics from my games in Oakland in 1999, but since that stadium is still around, I’m not as motivated to blog about it. I’ll get to it eventually.

    I’m special.

    Thanks. Always nice to hear your thoughts.

    No Beanie Baby for me. They were given to fans 14 and under. I wouldn’t have taken it anyway.

    Fair enough. I know how you feel because I had a special bond with Shea Stadium, which *was* ugly, but I never wanted to hear anyone else say so.

    I don’t know anyone. Sorry.

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