After nearly eight months of planning, everything was set: Stevie Wonder blared over the loudspeaker; the plane carrying the ring-bearing parachutist circled overhead; the reader board at Seafirst Stadium popped the question.
The only drama left was Mary Dailey’s answer.
“After 10 years, well, I don’t know,” a stunned Dailey teased fiance Stu Evey and 20 friends and relatives he had flown in from across the country.
“Yes,” she quickly added, in ofcourse fashion.
For Evey, a Spokane native credited with creating the ESPN all-sports cable network, a traditional marriage proposal just wouldn’t do. Dailey deserved the works.
So Thursday, Evey rented the empty home of the Spokane Indians baseball club and a few staff members. Overcast skies gave way to the sun, and under the backdrop of the center-field wall, tuxedo-wearing guests were served lunch and champagne catered by Salty’s.
Dailey was lured onto the outfield grass under the pretext that Evey was being honored for helping launch ESPN in 1979.
Then her eyes were directed to the huge message board in right-centerfield.
“Mary, I Love You. Will You Marry Me?”
A wind sock mounted on a tripod flapped in right field.
Then Dan Carroll, one of the best-dressed skydivers to ever leap from a Cessna, floated 5,000 feet with a red, white and blue rectangular canopy strapped to his formal wear.
The white-bearded adventurer handed Evey the ring case. Evey kneeled and slid the 2 1/2 carat rock onto Dailey’s finger.
“Oh my God, it’s beautiful,” she squealed. “It’s huge.”
Their song - “I Just Called to Say I Love You” - continued to play. A giddy Dailey, 49, caught her breath.
“Wonderful,” she said.
Evey’s creative proposal was not unlike his venture into 24-hour sports programming. They were both larks.
“This is kind of a different deal, the same way ESPN got started,” said Evey, who lives in Spokane but works as a consultant for Evergreen Airlines in McMinnville, Ore.
Evey’s foray into cable television occurred while he was a vice president at Getty Oil Co. in charge of all non-oil operations. In 1984, Texaco Oil Co. bought Getty, and ABC bought ESPN. Evey no longer had a job there.
Network spokesman Rob Tobias, reached at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., said Evey has not been forgotten.
The network was said to be considering airing videotaped footage of Evey’s proposal on one of its broadcasts.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo