SEATTLE – Melissa Kirkland and her friends spent Saturday hiking and wondering who they would run into later that night night when the Seattle Mariners hosted Gonzaga Night.
“We couldn’t stop talking about how we were going to see all of our friends, and how we didn’t even know who it was going to be but were excited to find out,” Kirkland said.
The event brings Zags and alumni to Safeco Field for a Mariners game and a special Mariners-themed Go Zags T-shirt for just $32. Additionally, there was a pregame happy hour on top of the stadium where Zags could mingle while taking in stunning views of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound.
For many, it is just to renew friendships. For others, it is an opportunity to reconnect with their university after moving west.
“Seattle has over 12,000 alumni here and just a lot of strong support,” said Nick Questad, who is the president of the Gonzaga Alumni Association’s Seattle chapter and who threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Saturday. “We get to gather and see our friends who we haven’t seen in a couple years. It’s a lot of fun.”
This is the third year the Mariners have hosted a Gonzaga Night. Each year the event has drawn more than 1,000 people, making it one of the largest gatherings of GU alumni in Seattle. It was also Nelson Cruz Bobblehead Night.
This year, 1,151 tickets were sold to GU fans and $5 of each ticket is given to a GU student scholarship fund. Gonzaga Night always draws at least a couple of Zags luminaries.
In the past, men’s basketball coach Mark Few and player Gary Bell Jr. threw out the first pitch. This year, former Zags star Steven Gray was spotted in the crowd.
GU sports fans have had a lot to celebrate in 2017. The men’s basketball team made it to the Final Four for the first time in program history, while the baseball program secured a share of the West Coast Conference regular-season title.