From the crack of the bat, to the call of the game. Baseball engulfs your senses.
For over 25 years, diehard Mariners fan Larry Andersen can be found in the stands cheering on his team. He relies on his sight, the smells and feelings to share in the excitement of the game since he was born deaf.
"You know it's a very visual thing, baseball is and I love the environment I love the smell of the environment, the grass. And having everybody cheer and stand up and everything,” says Andersen.
Larry tells me through an interpreter that Mariners baseball is part of his life. Growing up in Vancouver, Washington it was his aunt that took him to games as a kid.
“I grew up hard core as a fan. I collected cards growing up and I had ken Griffey Junior’s jersey and baseball cards that my Aunt got for me and I just collected the memorabilia and wanted to meet the guys so much.”
Now with a wife and three daughters who are all deaf, Larry and his family live in the Bay Area and share in their love of baseball, attending at least one Mariners game a series every time Seattle comes to town.
"I just have to go and I take my family you know I always try to make it.”
Which is exactly what he was doing on May 4th when he spray painted a Darth Vader costume blue and yellow with the Mariners vintage logo and a K for King Felix on it. He then was off to Oakland Coliseum where the Mariners would end up winning 9-8.
“It was the last game of the series over there in Oakland and it caught our eyes, the guy was sitting about three-four rows behind the dug out right before the game we saw the helmet and we all fell in love with it, says Mariners 3rd Base Coach Manny Acta.
And thanks to a fair trade following the game the Mariners took home the helmet. Larry, a Robinson Cano autographed bat.
“That day it was a swept so we call it the sweeping helmet and then one of the coaches Casey Candaele said sweeping helmet is too long it’s going to be called the Swelmet. So we decided to wear that on the plane and now it has become an everyday thing whoever is selected as the player of the game gets to wear the swelmet, we take a picture,” says Acta.
Pictures of players wearing the swelmet now can be seen on twitter following every Mariners win and the concept is catching on so much the team’s marketing department is trying to figure out if they can incorporate it into a fan giveaway.
“We have a team of people working on swelmet production right now. It looks like we need about 100 days to put the order in and get them here so we’re trying to see if we can shorten that to really capture the excitement that surrounds it,” says Kevin Martinez, the Vice President of Marketing for the Mariners.
But promotion or not, the swelmet embodies the passion Mariners fans have for their team, showing it doesn’t matter how you enjoy the game because baseball is all including.
"I just didn’t expect this at all. I didn’t expect it to go viral I thought it would just be a trade and we'd go home with the bat no big deal you know except that it'd be a big deal for us. I just hope that it will carry on and that the swelmet will carry something with it through October,” says Andersen.