Attendance Record Exceeds 2.7 Million

Among all the club records Seattle has set during the 1996 season, the most surprising to the world of baseball might be the one they established Sunday - when they brought their home season attendance total to 2,722,074.

The final home-date crowd of 54,194 was the Mariners’ third consecutive sellout, another team first, and meant Seattle had averaged 33,606 fans a game.

And manager Lou Piniella said the team can do better.

“That’s amazing, 2.7 million fans,” he said, “but I think we can draw 3 million.”

His theory is that Seattle proved it’s a baseball town in a year when the M’s weren’t in first place for long.

“There was always the question of whether this area would support major league baseball, and I think that’s been answered,” Piniella said. “But if we go to spring training with a set pitching staff, if we start well and were in first place most of the way, I don’t think there’s any question this team could draw 3 million.”

Niehaus watch

Ailing broadcaster Dave Niehaus visits his cardiologist today, but says the team has told him he won’t be back in the booth during the regular season - though he could come back if the Mariners make the postseason.

Wells will start

Piniella has decided to start Bob Wells on Tuesday against California instead of Bob Wolcott. Instead, Wolcott will start the final game of the season in Oakland Sunday.

If there’s a make-up game in Cleveland, Jamie Moyer will start on three days of rest.

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