Mariners caravan features upbeat message, autographs

Community: Baseball club to tour cities throughout Northwest before spring training next month

of the GatewayJanuary 15, 2014 

Jason Mackay 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, Danny Farquhar, a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners’ caravan brought Farquhar, announcer Dave Sims and the Mariner Moose to the Cheney Family branch of the Boys & Girls Club on Jan. 7 in Gig Harbor. It was the first day of the three-week caravan across the Pacific Northwest that will feature current and former players and announcers. The group signs autographs and puts on assemblies for elementary-age students.

Mackay met Farquhar before the assembly. The pitcher brought Mackay into a big hug, and the two snapped photographs together and talked baseball.

Farquhar is a pitcher, and Mackay likes to play catcher. He’s a fourth-grade student at Harbor Heights Elementary who has been playing Little League since he was 6. He’s 9 — “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 Mackay grows up, he’d like to play for the Mariners.

Along with Sims, the play-by-play voice of the team on TV, Farquhar talked about dreams in front of a cross-legged crowd of children. Those gathered shouted out their dreams — professional soccer players, football players and even oboe players.

The Mariners’ contingent said 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, who ended the season as the team’s closer, said he started to get “antsy” a month ago.

Meanwhile, Sims 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 said he wants to make a positive impression on young minds.

How did Mackay describe his meeting with Farquhar?

“Awesome,” he said. “Best experience of my life.”

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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