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Seattle Mariners

What Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons thinks of the Mariners

Mariners starting pitcher George Kirby has a big fan in legendary baseball reporter Peter Gammons.  (Tribune News Service)
By Adam Jude Seattle Times

PEORIA, Ariz. — Between the six of us, 185 years of MLB spring training experience was gathered Sunday morning on one side of the third-base dugout on Field 1 of the Mariners’ complex.

Peter Gammons leaned along the dugout fence for nearly an hour, sharing stories and memories here in his 53rd big-league spring training.

Huddled around him were Mariners broadcasters Rick Rizzs (49th camp) and Dave Sims (18th), plus retired Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone (38th), Mariners KIRO 710 reporter Shannon Drayer (23rd) and one lowly Times reporter just happy to listen in (that’s me, in my, um, fourth camp).

Gammons was the center of attention, and not just for the fellow media types. He’s baseball royalty, and as such he received a hearty welcome from Mariners manager Scott Servais and Justin Hollander, among many others, during his stop in Peoria.

For decades, Gammons, 78, has been the center of information around baseball as a distinguished reporter at The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and MLB Network.

He came to Mariners camp especially curious about Seattle’s pitching staff, and about one pitcher in particular.

Gammons lives in Cape Cod, Mass., and makes a point each summer to attend as many Cape Cod League games as he can. It’s one of the premier leagues for college players, and George Kirby pitched in the Cape as a 20-year-old in 2018. (Pitching for the Harwich Mariners that summer, Kirby had a 1.20 ERA, with 28 strikeouts and two walks in 15 innings.)

Immediately, Gammons said, he was struck by what he saw from the Elon University right-hander. And so were the two scouts (from the Yankees and Red Sox) he was sitting with.

“They loved him,” Gammons said.

And Gammons has been infatuated with Kirby ever since, so much so that he said if he had to choose one young pitcher to build a team around he would choose Kirby.

Gammons compared Kirby, the Mariners’ emerging ace, to Hall of Famer John Smoltz.

“I just love to watch him pitch, and I think he’s one of the most fascinating pitchers in the sport,” Gammons said. “When I saw him in the Cape, he threw strikes with a delivery that I couldn’t believe he repeated. I’m still a baseball fan, and when I see certain people they become favorites of mine, and he’s definitely one of them.”

He also sees the Mariners as a playoff team this year.

“I just have a really good feeling about what the Mariners are going to be,” he said. “I really believe they have the best starting pitching in the American League.”

Gammons has a soft spot for Seattle. It’s always been one of his favorite cities to visit, and he has a niece who lives in Seattle.

“It’s a great baseball city,” he said.

And those great Mariners teams from the 1990s, he said, still bring back fond memories for him.

“People around the country remember how much they loved the Mariners for a long time,” he said. “You could watch Junior running around on Edgar’s hit forever. It’s one of those moments in baseball you never forget.”