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Commentary: Consummate Mariner Kyle Seager gets to end his career in rare company

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 30, 2021

By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – No, there won’t be a statue in his likeness erected outside T-Mobile Park. His number won’t hang from the bleachers in left-center field, either.

When people speak Kyle Seager’s name, they won’t describe him as a Hall of Famer or multitime All-Star. But they will say this: He was the consummate Mariner.

Wednesday morning, Seager, 34, announced his retirement from Major League Baseball after spending all 11 of his MLB seasons in Seattle. His wife, Julie, shared a note via Twitter, in which the third baseman thanked his friends, family and fans while extolling the “wonderful ride” he enjoyed.

Maybe Seager was simply done with the game at the professional level – that after making $100 million and smashing 242 home runs, he wanted to ditch the grind to spend more time with his family. Or maybe he thought that if he couldn’t do it in Seattle, he didn’t want to do it anywhere else.

No doubt this city meant a lot to him. Just like there is no doubt he meant a lot to this city. The final game of the 2021 season encapsulated that relationship.

Most people in T-Mobile Park that day knew the Mariners weren’t going to pick up Seager’s option for 2022, meaning his days in Seattle were likely over. So when the M’s were officially eliminated from the playoffs via the Red Sox’s win over the Nationals, the chants began in the top of the ninth.

“Ky-le Sea-ger! Ky-le Sea-ger!”

Then M’s manager Scott Servais, who knew Seager was unlikely to bat in the second half of the inning, pulled him from the game so he could receive a proper sendoff. The fans delivered an ovation that moved Seager to tears.

“I tried to kind of wave and show my appreciation,” he said after the game. “That kind of made it worse, to be honest with you, because then I just started getting more emotional. They kept getting louder. It was really special.”

Seager was a Seattle staple for a decade-plus. A consistent third baseman who usually was reliable to play at least 150 games. He made the All-Star Game in 2014 when he slugged 25 home runs and won his sole Gold Glove Award. That paved the way for the seven-year, $100 million extension he signed in December of that year.

Two seasons later, Seager posted a career-high OPS of .859 and finished 12th in the American League MVP voting. Would he play that well again? No, but he was still productive.

More so than that, Seager was an incessantly familiar face for the Mariners’ fan base. When Ichiro Suzuki went to the Yankees in 2012, Seager was still there. When Felix Hernandez moved on after the 2019 season, Seager was still there. Many names and faces have come through the Seattle turnstiles, but Seager remained. Fans won’t forget that. His legacy here is secure.

And for what it’s worth, he was a pleasure for the media to work with. Candid, but rarely terse. Humorous, but never insulting. He wasn’t a human headline machine like Richard Sherman was during his Q&As with the Seahawks, but if you needed some fluff-free insight, Seager was dependable.

And in the fluff-free spirit, let’s be honest for a second: Seager’s final year with the Mariners was well short of inspiring. Despite hitting 35 home runs, he posted a career-low .212 batting average and an OPS of .723 – his lowest since his .691 mark his first season. It made the business decision of not bringing him back easy for the M’s, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t emotion.

Fewer than 200 MLB players to log 10 seasons or more have retired having played for just one team. Seager just joined that exclusive club.

An outpouring of appreciation for Seager was evident on social media Wednesday. Fans, broadcasters and writers all got in on the action – as did Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who tweeted “One of the best to ever do it on the hot corner. Congrats to a true Seattle legend Kyle Seager on an outstanding career!”

A great career it was. And all in one place. A true Seattle legend? Maybe. A true Seattle Mariner? Absolutely.

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