Seattle, Forever

Article by An excerpt from ThePlayersTribune.com, written by Seattle Mariner Julio Rodriguez

Photography by Jackson Krule/The Players’ Tribune

Originally published in Bellevue Lifestyle

I know I’m not the first Dominican player to have made it to the big leagues like I did. There have been plenty before me, and there will be plenty after me. But you know what we all have in common? At some point, as young men, we just had to jump — we had to trust in those around us. Our parents, brothers and sisters, cousins, friends, friends of friends. Anyone. We had to hope that they had our best interests at heart. Because it takes a village to make a ballplayer in the Dominican. I saw kids like me, kids with real talent, get lost along the way because they didn’t have the right people around them. But I was lucky. I had my dad. He was a ballplayer back in the day, and I think that’s where my passion for the game comes from. And my mom made sure I treated everybody well and played the right way.

They helped me see people for who they really are. And when I was considering my options for coming to America, I wanted to be around good people. The more time I spent talking with the Mariners, the more I started to feel something really special growing. In one of our conversations, they said something that really stuck with me: “We don’t want you to be anything other than the guy that you say you’re going to be.” They looked at me, a 16-year-old kid, and put their faith in who thought I could be. That’s trust. You get me?? That’s trust.

So I just let myself be me. That’s what I tried to do the whole year. That’s what I felt like Seattle wanted me to do. And when it got tough, and there were bad stretches, I just had to trust in myself — in those around me. As a rookie, you know, you come into the show with some personal goals, right? You want to stay up in the bigs, you want to prove to everyone who helped you that you can do it, all of that. But I’d be lying if I said everyone in our clubhouse wasn’t thinking about the drought in March, in April, in May. We wanted to break it so bad.

And that became all I wanted. I felt a part of something that connected generations of Mariners fans. I’d come out to the stadium each day and I’d see that look on their faces, that desire to see a good ballclub. That became a part of me. And all the guys in our room, too.

People ask me all the time about what our fans are like, or what the stadium was like during the playoff run. I’m not going to sit here and tell you about how they’re the “loudest” or the “craziest” or whatever. It’s not about that. I’ve been in the league for a year. Mariners’ fans are all I really know. Yeah, we went to some loud parks and all that, but it’s different when you’re a visitor. All I can tell you is that there’s an emotional connection at our park that you just have to experience to really understand. Coming out onto the field for big games…. Man, I would just get this feeling. It would start in my ankles, up my legs, through my back and then just BAM — this bolt of energy through my body. And I’d take that and I’d run with it all night. I’d look around the park … and it just felt like, I’m supposed to be here.

I was in the back of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with my agent at the end of August, and that’s what I was thinking about. That energy. He was telling me about the contract, about all the details, and I just wanted that energy, forever. I’ll be honest, I never thought twice about another club or a future anywhere else other than Seattle. I don’t care if people believe it. The Mariners took a chance on me all those years ago. They let me be me. Other clubs had their opportunity. I was still Julio back then. Seattle just saw it before everyone else. I’ll always appreciate that. And another thing: I’m happy here. Every time I’m at the ballpark, every time I’m walking around the city, every time I look at the Space Needle and remember The Jetsons cartoons I used to watch on the living room floor — I’m reminded how happy I am here.

I think people sometimes get so lost trying to get more and more and more. And that’s not to say I don’t want to get better, or help the team get to late October baseball — that’s my biggest goal.

But, man…. When you find something good? Something you love? Hold on to it. Don’t let it go.

And I love Seattle.

It’s home.

I feel embraced here, and I know how this city treats people who give their all.

For full story, visit www.theplayerstribune.com/posts/julio-rodriguez-mlb-baseball-seattle-mariners

When you find something good? Something you love? Hold on to it. Don’t let it go.

And I love Seattle.

It’s home.

I feel embraced here, and I know how this city treats people who give their all.

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