By Shannon Drayer
Despite the hectic and limiting Major League Baseball schedule, Felix Hernandez always seems to find time to give back. On the only off day the Mariners will have the next two weeks and the day before his next start – which will be a Supreme Court Night where the first 25,000 fans will receive King's Court T-shirts – Felix was at Safeco Field for a few hours to help spread a message that is important to him.
"It is for a good cause, a good cause," he said. "Something that is really important for us, anti-bullying, because we just want everybody to be safe at the school. I think everybody deserves to be respected, and be themself."
On a sunny Thursday afternoon, a group of students from Bellevue's Highland Middle School were brought to Safeco Field to be a part of an anti-bullying public service announcement with the Mariner Moose. The chance to leave school to be on a big-league field with the Moose and shoot a commercial created a big buzz among the pre-teens. That buzz would soon get louder as they had a surprise in store. As they were filming, the director for the PSA stopped the shoot and told the kids that it was missing something. That missing something was Felix, who snuck up behind the kids in full uniform.
"It was a surprise," Felix said. "When I came out of the dugout they were screaming. I see their eyes, they were really happy and it was a real surprise for them."
The surprise didn't end there, however, as the director was still not satisfied with a shoot. Felix had an idea.
"I call a friend, I call Macklemore and it was even better," he said. "They were really surprised."
Grammy-award-winning artist Macklemore emerged from the dugout, and cheering and a few screams ensued. At that point the director was satisfied. The commercial was finished and the kids got to spend a few minutes with Felix and Macklemore and take pictures with them. It was an afternoon one of the attendees, Alexis, will never forget.
"It was really cool how Macklemore and Felix Hernandez could be here," he said. "It was touching, like famous people aren't all about themselves, they actually care what happens to other people."
Hernandez and rapper Macklemore made an impression on the youngsters, including one who appreciated how "they actually care what happens to other people." (Mariners)
"Me and my wife, we just talk about with them we have got to respect each other. You don't have to be a bad guy, you just got to do your thing," he said. "You have got to be yourself, you have got to treat people like they have to treat you. Good. There are a lot of kids who are being bullied and this will help them get support."
I have always been impressed with Felix's willingness to help in the community and something he said Thursday confirmed that he isn't just saying yes to be agreeable, he understands that he as a famous athlete has a voice.
"You know, this is going to be good," he said after our taped interview had finished and he was heading out to take pictures with Macklemore. "People are going to hear us."
The kids at Safeco Field did.
"I think it is very important because bullying is not something that should happen to us or anyone else," said one named Yukta.
"Don't be a bystander," said Adelyn. "If someone is being bullied you should go up to the bully and confront them or go ask someone a teacher or adult to help you out."
It helps to know they have the support of Felix and Macklemore.
"You just might as well tell the bully, Macklemore and Felix do not support you!" Adelyn said.
More on the campaign by Felix, Macklemore and the Mariners to "Stand Up To Bullying" and #ChangeTheGame, including help for teachers and parents, can be found here.