While the Mariners “9” have received a lot of attention on the field this season, there is another team that’s getting some notice lately – the K9 Explosive Detection Unit that patrols Safeco Field on game days.
King County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Akiona and his Springer Spaniel Chase, Deputy Joe Merclich and Rio, a black lab, and Seattle Police Officer Craig Williamson and his yellow lab Dennis can be seen around the ballpark checking for suspicious packages. The dogs are all trained to detect over 19,000 explosive combinations.
While they’re all business while they’re on duty, the K9 officers are still just dogs. They’re friendly, playful and very approachable. Deputy Akiona wanted to find a way to help communicate what they do with the curious fans who approach them at games. So, he came up with the idea of baseball cards. The cards have photos of the three dogs (and there’s one with all the units, including their human partners) that have information about the dogs on the back. Sort of like their “stats.”
Chase’s says that he came from a family in Lake Stevens who couldn’t keep him. He started training to be a bomb sniffing dog in November of 2011 and has been on the job since March 2012. He likes playing with other animals and his favorite thing is food.
Both Dennis and Rio flunked out of guide dog training as puppies due to their curious nature.
Chase, Dennis and Rio all live full time with his human partners and enjoy being ordinary, although very well trained dogs in their spare time.
Tonight is Fan Appreciation Night at Safeco Field, and we hope to see all of you out at the ballpark today to open the crucial series vs. the Angels. There will be a ton of great prizes handed out tonight, including the chance to watch an inning with Edgar Martinez, a pair of Diamond Club tickets to a game in 2015, autographed memorabilia and several vacation packages, including a trip to spring training. We hope to see all of you at Safeco Field tonight and throughout the weekend. Go Mariners!
The Mariners return Safeco Field tonight opening a 6-game homestand vs. the Texas Rangers (Monday-Wednesday) and the Washington Nationals (Friday-Sunday). Here are some highlights of the homestand:
Mon., Aug. 25 TEX
- Ceremonial First Pitch – Shawn Hollis, 2014 Mariners Team Store Dreamstakes Grand Prize Winner
- BECU Family Night – Select View Level seats for $10 ($12 on game day)
Tues., Aug. 26 TEX
- Salute to Native American Night – First 10,000 fans 21 and older get a Mariners cap with a Native American motif on the bill. Courtesy of EQC. Native American dancers will perform pregame.
- Season Ticket Holder early gate opening—4:10pm Right Field Gate
Wed., Aug. 27 TEX 12:40PM start
- Safeco Grand Slam Family Pack – Ticket, hot dog and Pepsi for one low price, $15 View Level, $30 Main Level, $35 Terrace Club
- King’s Court
- Ceremonial First Pitch – Ernie Kent, WSU Men’s Basketball head coach
Fri., Aug. 29 WAS
- Fireworks Night – postgame fireworks show set to the music of Northwest artists.
- Mariners Wives Favorite Things Basket silent auction – Section 128, Main Concourse, to benefit Mariners Care.
Sat., Aug. 30 WAS
- Sustainable Saturday– Sponsored by BASF. Promoting the Mariners sustainability efforts at Safeco Field that have made the Mariners the top recyclers in the American League for two consecutive years.
- Felix Hernandez Bobblehead Night, first 20,000 fans, courtesy of
- Season ticket holder early gate opening – 3:10pm, Right Field Gate
- Mariners Care silent auction, Sec. 128, Main Concourse
- Silver Bullet Saturday in The ‘Pen
Sun., Aug. 31 WAS
- Salute to Kids Day, where kids take over the ballpark to do a variety of dream jobs including PA announcer, groundskeeper, reporter and more.
- Robinson Cano insulated lunch bag, courtesy of Boeing, all kids 14 and younger.
- Postgame Kids Run Around the Bases, sponsored by KeyBank.
Representatives from youth baseball and softball organizations from around the greater Seattle area got some “inside baseball” tips on how to keep their fields in Major League condition from one of the best grounds crews in MLB.
Mariners head groundskeeper Bob Christofferson and his crew led participants in a field maintenance clinic put on by Baseball Tomorrow Fund, an organization that provides grants to support youth baseball and softball programs.
Some 60 youth baseball/softball organization representatives started their afternoon at Safeco Field with a slide show, narrated by Christofferson, that gave insight into what it takes to keep a ballpark Major League-ready, followed by break-out groups to focus on such things as fertilizing, equipment and the pitcher’s mound.
Major League Baseball inspects to every field every-other-year, but Christofferson says he and his crew start every spring with a high-tech survey of Safeco Field. They laser-level home plate, measure the mound to make sure it’s regulation height and check to make sure the pitcher’s slab is 60-feet-six-inches from home, and that all the bases are the requisite 90-feet apart.
The mound, which is made of packed “Gator Gumbo” clay from the Mississippi River, is the purview of assistant groundskeeper Tim Wilson. Each spring, Wilson sets a new slab in the mound, burying it six-inches deep, and “packs the clay like asphalt” on the front slope of the mound. All season, Wilson works with the pitchers to make sure the mound is to his liking for every start.
To keep the field looking and playing its best, the crew will aerate twice a season (putting down some 15 tons of sand after each treatment), fertilize regularly, water and mow. In the middle of the season, when the team is home, the infield grass will be watered four times a day, and mowed twice on game days.
When the team is on the road, they “give the grass a break.” Crews will do what they call a “neutral mow” once a day without regard for the pattern in the grass. A few days before the start of a homestand, they’ll cut those precise patterns in the grass.
As for how the pattern appears, it’s all in the direction of the mower’s blades. Mowing in one direction will push the blades of grass down so they look lighter, and turning in the other direction makes it look darker.
Safeco Field’s infield grass was replaced a few years ago, but Christofferson notes that 80-percent of the sod is original from 1999, making it the oldest field in MLB. That’s testament to the expertise of Christofferson and his crew. A couple of years ago, they got a big assist with the arrival of some grow-lights from The Netherlands. From mid-February until April the lights are deployed daily, getting the grass in mid-season form by Opening Day. “We’re playing on June 1 grass on April 1,” says Christofferson.
One look at the lush, impossibly green grass of Safeco Field is evidence that Christofferson has earned his nickname, “The Sod Father.”
With the Toronto Blue Jays coming to town next week for one of the biggest 3-game series of the year, we wanted to update you on a new promotion that has just been added. On Monday night with Felix on the mound, the first 30,000 fans at the game will receive a yellow rally towel or as we’re calling it a “K cloth”.
In addition, we’re expecting a multi-tiered King’s Court on the Main, Terrace & View Levels. Tickets are on sale now in the Main & Terrace.
You can visit Mariners.com/kingscourt for ticket offers for the game.
Some 1,300 runners and walkers turned out at Safeco Field over the weekend for the Third Annual Refuse to Abuse 5K. The event raised $107,000 to benefit the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
This unique event is the only 5K that uses Safeco Field as its course. Participants wound their way around every level of the ballpark with a final lap around the warning track on the field.
The 5K builds on the 18-year partnership between the Mariners and the Coalition that resulted in the groundbreaking Refuse To Abuse® violence prevention campaign which helps raise awareness and gives community members a way to get involved in preventing domestic violence.
Here is a link to a feature that FOX Sports produced on food at three ballparks, Safeco Field, AT&T Park and Target Field. It features Ethan Stowell and MasterChef’s Graham Elliott. The piece has aired a few times on FOX Sports Live and a shorter version ran before the All-Star Game. Great to see Safeco Field’s great food featured on the national level. Enjoy!
The Mariners open a 8-game, 3-team homestand tonight with the first of three games vs. the New York Yankees. The Rangers (3 games, Friday-Sunday) and Interleague rival San Diego Padres (2 games, Monday-Tuesday) also visit Seattle during this homestand. Here are some fun events and promotions featured during this 8-game set: