Kirkland’s Tim O’Rourke is at the home opener Monday night. I mean, he’s gone the past 36 years, so why stop now?
“I am 42 and half. It has to do with my first Mariners game because I was six and a half at the first one. Most of my life has been based on the Mariners.”
So he’s never missed a home opener since he was 6-years-old?
“Never. Nope, nope. My cousin Sean and I have been to every single one of them. My dad has missed, I think this will be the fourth one he missed, and my uncle, I think, has only missed two. It’s a family deal. I mean, everybody in our extended family knows how important it is for Tim and Sean to get to this game. We all pretty much bleed the Mariners.”
Tim went to school at Washington State University and lived in Atlanta for a few years, but he’s always managed to fly home for the game. Now he takes his 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter with him.
“I took her to her first game when she was 4-months-old. We were playing Kansas City and Brett Tomko was pitching. But I remember in late 2000, we were in the playoffs, she was 9-months-old. I had a diaper bag strapped on me with a backpack, carrying her in one arm and I had a beer in another arm. She got to see her first Mariners playoff game at nine months and it took me 19 years.”
No matter how good or bad the Mariners play, Tim is a die hard, devoted fan, who gets a little bit annoyed with the fair weather fans.
“There will be 47,000 people there and there will be 17 there (Tuesday). The ’95 season is always a good example because everybody says, ‘Well, I’ve been a fan since ’95.’ And I’m like, ‘yeah, no kidding, so was everybody else. That was an awesome year and a historic run in the team history. Of course you were a fan since ’95. I’ve been coming to this thing since ’77. Where were you when we lost 103 games? I was still there.’ So, yeah, those guys that show up when we get good, I’m not down with that. It’s like, thanks for coming, but saying you’re a fan since ’95 isn’t gonna fly with me.”
As you can tell, the Mariners can make Tim emotional. I asked him if he’s ever cried over a game.
“Oh yeah, absolutely. ’95, I mean, I was 25-years-old and that was the first time we were good. For me, that was very emotional. Yes, to answer your question, I have cried. My friends now know. They asked me not to mention that on the air.”
I asked Tim if, even as a 42 and a half year old man, he still wishes he could play ball for the Mariners.
“I’m still upset I don’t play shortstop for the Mariners and didn’t play here for 20 years and hit, you know, 400 home runs.”
But the Mariners are more than just a sport for Tim, it’s also about family. It’s the one place where his cousins, uncles, grandpas and sisters come together, where he runs into old friends from high school, where he can share his passion with his kids.
“It’s fun to see that I’ll be able to kind of keep doing what me and my dad kind of started. My dad would take me to the Kingdome and that’s the only place I wanted to be when I was a kid. So now I can kind of keep doing that with my kids. It’s nice to hand that down and keep it going.”