There’s no better way to gear up for baseball season in Seattle than attending the Mariners’ annual FanFest. For two days, you’re treated to the complete Safeco Field experience, from roaming the clubhouse to pitching in the bullpen and playing catch in the outfield. Here are several tips and tricks to get you through the 10-hour weekend extravaganza:
1. If you want to meet the players, get in line early. I will amend this for myself and say “get in line,” since I skipped all the autograph signings and player appearances last year. (Don’t ask me why; it was poor planning on my part.) Here’s my point: the Mariners only allow the first 500 fans to meet each player. In past FanFests, over 16,000 fans have attended (that’s in one weekend!). Plan ahead.
So far, this is the current list of scheduled Mariner appearances: Jesus Montero, Mike Carp, Trayvon Robinson (Sunday only), Brandon League, Miguel Olivo, Brendan Ryan, Jason Vargas, Casper Wells, Vinnie Catricala, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Jay Buhner (Saturday only), Julio Cruz (Sunday only), Dan Wilson (Sunday only), Rick Rizzs, Brad Adam, Mike Blowers, Dave Valle, Eric Wedge, and Jack Zduriencik.
2. Don’t try to do everything. Unless, of course, it’s your first time. In that case, do everything! Run the bases with the five-year-olds. Try your hand at reporting from home plate. Meet every player, participate in the trivia contests, and learn how to score a game from the press box.
3. Visit the booths. Sadly, I don’t have a list of this year’s booths or a great memory from the ones I saw last year, but I can guarantee you they’re worth checking out. At least stop by the Everett AquaSox and Seattle Mariners Women’s Club tables. SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) is also hosting their Northwest Chapter meeting on Saturday from 12-3pm. It’s open to the public and may include special guest appearances.
4. If you can’t get there early, get there late. Last year, I made it to Safeco for the final few hours of FanFest, and while I missed out on quite a few events, I definitely didn’t miss the crowds. The park was nearly empty, and I was able to run the bases, sit in the dugout, and catch a tour of the clubhouse and roof control room right before FanFest ended.
5. Tweet about it! Per the Mariners’ instructions on their website, you can follow them on Twitter @Mariners for updates throughout the weekend, and record your own impressions with the #MarinersFF hashtag. Seattle tweet-up, anyone?
Mariners 2012 FanFest runs from 11-4pm on Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29. You can purchase $10 tickets online, at a Mariners team store, or at Safeco Field (day of event only). For more information on special events and activities, check out their FanFest page here. Hope to see you there!