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Following The M’S A Labor Of Love Spokane Employees Call Timeout When The Playoff Games Are On TV Firefighters Hoping Seattle’s Batters Will Be The Only Things To Catch Fire

By the third inning, Dave Weimer, parking lot attendant, has become Dave Weimer, Mariners play-by-play man.

“What is it?” asks the driver, handing over a crisp five after picking up his kids at the YMCA day care.

“Two-zip. M’s are up.”

Mariner fever is coursing through offices as big as Sacred Heart Medical Center and as small as Weimer’s downtown parking booth (3 feet by 6 feet). For those businesses open at night in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, the most productive department has become the one with the TV.

Or in Weimer’s case, the radio. “I got everything I need here,” says Weimer, 30, blessed with a space heater, a box of Bugle corn chips and a scratchy tan radio older than him. “Come on, throw some strikes.”

At Spokane Fire Station 4, the eight firefighters return from a false alarm (“smell of smoke”) that cost them the first half-inning.

By the fourth (Seattle 2, Cleveland 1) they’re hoping Seattle’s batters will be the only things to catch fire.

“It was nice this weekend, when we got called to a house and they had the game on,” says Lt. Dave Hayworth. “Ooh, good pitch.”

At The Bon Marche, longtime Mariner fan Heather Clemans can see rightfielder Jay Buhner on a bank of 27 televisions while she folds washcloths in the bath department.

“That doesn’t stop me from walking over to watch,” she admits.

Workers in the other departments have to call TV salesman E.K. Lingle or wander up to the fourth floor to get the score.

“This is nothing compared to the O.J. verdict,” Lingle says. “People from all over downtown stood in front of these TVs. Then they just moaned and walked away.”

Pork chops and Mike Blowers are at the plate at the Kootenai County Fire Department off Ramsey Road in Coeur d’Alene.

Firefighters Larry Sande and Richard Brown dig into the chops when Blowers, the Mariner third baseman, tears into a Dennis Martinez pitch for a two-run homer.

Along with their Dalmatian, Probie, they are well into their standard 24-hour shift.

“I’ve watched more baseball in the past week than in my entire life,” says Brown, a Kansas transplant who rooted for the Kansas City Royals before the Mariners got hot. “I really wasn’t that big a fan until they started winning.”

For Tom Legel, vice president of finance at Kootenai Medical Center, the M’s game complements a tasty burger and a long night of work. “I’m the last guy here tonight, so I’m happy the game’s on.”

At some offices, they’re quick to point out Mariners fever doesn’t hurt services.

At Sacred Heart Medical Center, doctors and nurses usually are too busy to watch television, except perhaps the last inning or so.

Same thing at the newspaper, where the editors who will read this story are gathered around the TV to high-five the last outs in a 3-2 Mariner win. Certinly, theyr work wont suffur.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Color Photos

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