Jason Mackey sat in the front row of the gym, one leg tucked under him and the other stretched out in front. He gradually scooted forward, closer to his hero, Seattle Mariners pitcher Danny Farquhar.
The Mariners Caravan brought Farquhar, Dave Sims and the Mariner Moose to the Cheney Family Branch of the Boys and Girls Club in Gig Harbor. It was the first day of the three-week caravan across the Pacific Northwest that features current and former players and announcers. The group puts on assemblies for elementary age students and signs autographs.
Mackey met Farquhar before the assembly. The pitcher brought Mackey into a big hug and the two snapped photographs together and talked baseball. Farquhar is a pitcher, Mackey likes to play catcher. He’s a fourth grade student at Harbor Heights Elementary who has been playing little league since age 6. He’s 9 years old -- “almost 10” -- now.
“I like everything about (baseball),” he said. Catcher is his favorite position because it's “usually the heart of the team.”
When Mackey grows up, he’d like to be a Seattle Mariner. Current Mariner Farquhar talked about dreams, along with Sims, in front of a cross-legged crowd of children. Those gathered shouted out their dreams -- professional soccer, football and oboe players. Sims, the Moose and Farquhar said that respecting others, staying motivated and keeping away from drugs is the way to keep on track for those dreams.
Pitcher Charlie Furbush, originally part of the caravan, couldn’t attend due to weather on the east coast. He was stuck in Maine. Sims and Farquhar said they’re both ready for the season. Farquhar said he started to get “antsy” a month ago. Sims, for his part, has been preparing for a new season.
“I’ve been overdosing on the MLB network,” he said.
Both enjoy taking the time to meet young, impressionable fans. Farquhar wants to make a positive impression on young minds. He certainly impressed one fan at the caravan. How did Mackey describe meeting Farquhar?
“Awesome,” he said. “Best experience of my life.”