It’s been a sad year for the Seattle Mariners, but their AAA affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, is getting ready to play the A’s AAA affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, for the Pacific Coast League title starting tonight.

Last year I talked with Kevin Kalal, a longtime Rainiers official, about the 1995 Rainiers and Mariners. To help get fans ready for the playoff series, here, from the interview, is his story about how the Rainiers went from being the A’s affiliate to the Mariners affiliate in ’95.


Kevin Kalal: We’d been the A’s affiliate from 1981 to 1994, and there was some benefit to that. We got to see Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Walt Weiss, three Rookies of the Year in a row. But in ’94 we had an expiring contract, and so did Calgary, the Mariners’ affiliate.

When we posted scores for the major league games, our fans would do nothing when the A’s scored, but they’d cheer when the Mariners scored. The A’s were so much farther away; a lot of fans would never see the Tigers’ players again. It was a natural fit with the Mariners, and in October of 1994 we announced we were going to be with the Mariners the next season. There was a lot of enthusiasm in anticipation of the season.

Actually even before that the Mariners, because of the tiles falling from the Kingdome in ’94, they were going to play their games at Cheney Stadium, or in Anaheim, while they fixed the Kingdome roof. Of course the strike stopped that, but it still shifted attention to our organization, our facilities. Around that time we were playing the Cannons, and Alex Rodriguez hit a homer in extra innings to win the game.

’95 was an exciting time. There were these questions about what’s going to happen if the season doesn’t start on time, will we use scab players, replacements.

In fact, five or seven of the guys who started the season, people like Terrell Hansen and Marty Pevey, were not everyday guys, they wouldn’t’ve ordinarily been on the team. We had one fireman who’d been a player and he made the team. Then when the major league rosters got readjusted after the strike ended we had brand new players.

We had a major turnover in our front office staff going from the A’s to the Mariners. We needed to break away from the green and gold, so we came up with a new logo, a new team name.

A lot of people really didn’t like the decision to be called the Rainiers. The detractors didn’t like “Rainiers;” they said it was too tied up with Seattle. “Why were we naming the team after a Seattle franchise?” They said our teams were the Tigers, and some of them would wear Tigers clothes to the game.

We had a really good team in ’95, but lots of transition, guys coming and going. Two great shortstops, Alex Rodriguez and Andy Sheets.

Read more MLB news on