Yesterday was a very good day at Safeco Field. Even before the Mariners came back for a 9-3 win over the Padres. And although Dae-Ho Lee’s huge three-run homer into The ‘Pen was impressive, the highlight of the day may have come during the pregame ceremony that saluted members of “The Greatest Generation.”
With the help of Puget Sound Honor Flight, an organization that takes veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials for the wars in which they fought, the Mariners paid tribute to 30 veterans of World War II. They lined up along the first and third base lines with Mariners and Padres players for the presentation of the colors and singing of the National Anthem.
A few minutes later, some 30,000 fans were charmed by 92-year old Burke Waldron of Bremerton as he sprinted out to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Waldron, who wore his vintage U.S. Navy uniform, waved to the crowd, wound up and threw a strike to catcher Steve Clevenger. And instead of going off the field, Waldron was called over to the Mariners dugout where Edgar Martinez and Robinson Canó both asked to meet him.
Waldron attained the rank of Second Class Petty Officer while serving in the Navy from 1943-46. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor and was on a troop ship as part of the invasion of the Makin Islands and participated in the Saipan Invasion with the Ground Forces of the Pacific.
In honor of Memorial Day, Mariners and Padres players wore special jerseys and caps with camouflage developed by the U.S. Marine Corps. All fans entering the ballpark got miniature American flags, courtesy of KeyBank.