Using your head: Mariners fans use shoes in superstition-fueled wildcard comeback
The Mariners overcame a seven-run deficit Saturday to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-9 in the largest comeback win for a visiting team in playoff history.
But before that, Ben Cox used his head … and his shoe.
“At that moment when you’re down 7-5 or 8-1 during the game, you’re kind of willing to do anything to change the momentum,” he told KIRO Newsradio.
He said he had seen another Mariners fan in a previous game put a shoe on his head in an apparent attempt to win the baseball gods’ favor, and he figured anything could help. Soon, he wasn’t alone.
“I put my left shoe onto my head and my buddy and brother-in-law Ryan looks at everything and he goes ‘what is happening,’ and I say, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Cox said. “But then the hits started coming.”
Adam Frazier, with the Mariners already trailing 4-0, got the team’s first hit of the game in the 5th inning. Frazier became the team’s first run off a Jarred Kelenic sacrifice fly later that inning.
As the Mariners lineup piled up runs from the 6th inning onward, cameras from T-Mobile Park’s watch party showed fan after fan joining in the superstitious headwear.
“I was on the Jumbotron and it just seemed to take flight,” he said. “Next thing you know, you look around and it looks like the entire watch party had a shoe on their head.”
Seattle matched the four-run 5th inning Toronto put together with four runs of its own off four hits, capped by Carlos Santana’s three-run home run to push the game to 8-5.
— Seattle Sports (@SeattleSports) October 8, 2022
A Danny Jepson single brought in Teoscar Hernandez to push Toronto up 9-5, but at the top of the 8th, J.P. Crawford’s three-run double tied the game with the watch party, still mostly full in attendance, absolutely erupting.
Frazier hit a double to deep right-field the following inning, bringing in Cal Raleigh for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run.
— Seattle Sports (@SeattleSports) October 9, 2022
The Toronto Blue Jays had a 99.2% chance of winning after pulling ahead 8-1.
With ESPN’s matchup predictor giving the Astros a 3-to-1 chance to beat the Mariners in the American League Division Series, Cox told KIRO Newsradio he’ll take off his shoe again if necessary.
“I’ll put a shoe on my head any time,” he said. “If we get there and we’re down, like why not?”
The Seattle Mariners finished 7-12 against the division-rival Houston Astros this season, including losing six of its last seven to the AL West Champions.
Around the 8th inning, Cox said a Mariners staffer approached the shoe-clad trend-starter and told him his footwear was making it big. His autographed Birkenstock sandal now graces the Mariners Hall of Fame.
Cox, however, left the game without a left shoe.
“Maybe next time, if the shoe works again, they can hook me up with at least a left shoe to go home with,” he said. “I don’t need both, but one would be good.”
He said he’s going to be at T-Mobile Park Saturday when the Astros come to Seattle for Game 3 of the ALDS – and he’s guaranteeing shoes on heads.