The Everett AquaSox are the seminal minor league institution in town and it is in no small part due to the you the fans. Avid followers and casual fans alike may have seen some of the slightly more colorful longtime fans patrol the concourse and bleachers. As we do with the players in our summer long interviews, this year, we want to bring your fellow fans closer to you. This week’s Seattle Sports Union (SSU) spotlight is the super-fan in right field himself, Jeff Swanson. Regulars to Everett Memorial Stadium may have noticed him in a distinctive bright orange shirt always hanging out in right field, shagging home run balls.
SSU: In you words, if you don’t mind, tell me a little bit about Jeff Swanson. What do you do for a living? Where are you from?
Jeff: Yes, I was born in Seattle and live in Richmond Beach. I’ve lived here since 1994, before that Mountlake Terrace, where I grew up.
SSU: Your favorite team growing up? Favorite Player growing up?
Jeff: I’ve followed the Mariners since their inception and in fact was there when Ken Griffey Jr. hit his first ever home run in the Kingdome. If the guy in front of me hadn’t been there, I have no doubt I would have caught it! I would say my favorite player is Griffey, you never knew what would happen when he stepped up to the plate.
SSU: Why or how did you become and AquaSox fan Jeff?
Jeff: I’ve always preferred the minor league atmosphere, there’s something kind of cool about seeing someone in the majors and saying “I watched them play way back when…” I did sit in the left field GA seats for a couple of games, but after years of going to BP at the old Kingdome and seeing how many balls flew out to the homer porch in right, I knew that’s where I belonged.
SSU: How many baseballs have you gotten over the years at Memorial Stadium.
Jeff: To date, I’ve gotten 18 home run balls at Memorial Stadium and 8 at the old Kingdome! I have them in those plastic cube holders, and still have them, with the exception of three that the players wanted back. One of my memorable ones – two, really – came back in 2005 when Chad Boyd of the Canadians hit one that I caught. It was toward the end of the season so I didn’t think much of it, until I read in the paper and online that it was his first ever home run. So I put it in a plastic bag and the next night, had him called over so I could give it to him. He was of course a little astonished that I’d do that, but I told him it meant more to him than it ever would to me. That very same night, Michael Saunders – who later played for the Mariners – hit one that I caught. That one, he didn’t want back. Maybe that was good karma? Of the 18, 4 players have made it to the major leagues: Michael Saunders, Rafael Lopez, Daniel Vogelbach, and the late Greg Halman,
SSU: I was just going to ask you about Rafael. I remember him, he plays now for the San Diego Padres.
Jeff: Rafael’s was funny – I caught it, and again didn’t think much of it, but then other fans on the homer porch started yelling over to me. Rafael’s standing down by the foul pole, motioning to me. During the game. He explained that this wasn’t his first home run, but the first where he saw where it landed, and so could he have it back. So, we decided to meet after the game, and I was able to give it to him. Seeing that he made it to the major leagues later was pretty cool!
SSU: I understand why you sit in RF but inquiring minds want to know, tell us about your signature orange shirt?
Jeff: I didn’t always wear the orange shirt – I used to have an aqua-colored one that said “Real Men Wear Aqua” on it, but after that wore out, I wore AquaSox anniversary shirts until the next one came out, then I’d start wearing that. There’s no reason for the orange other than the fact that they had the 30th anniversary shirts in orange. The one I have now is pretty faded, but I’ve seen in pictures where it’s still very much visible from a distance, so I’ll probably stick with orange!
SSU: Do you have any favorite moment(s) from AquaSox games over your time here?
Jeff: I was here for the 2010 championship, in fact in the YouTube video of the final out, you can see me in the stands in the background. That was an amazing night, and I don’t think I left for a couple of hours. No one really wanted to leave. I even walked back into the stadium and out onto the field and just looked around.
SSU: Do you have an all-time favorite player or players who played here?
Jeff: Welington Dotel (now in the Atlantic League). He played right field, and he would always wave to me when he came out. He was a very nice guy, and we’re Facebook friends. There’s a funny story behind that, too – when he was promoted to Clinton, I drove down there after visiting friends in Rochester, Minnesota, and when he came out onto the field, there I am in an AquaSox jersey yelling “WELINGTON!” The look on his face was priceless… “What are you doing in Iowa?” He tossed me baseballs during the game which I had him and other former Frogs autograph and gave them to their former host families in Everett.
SSU: You thoughts on manager Jose Moreno?
Jeff: I’m sure Jose will bring the trophy back to Everett – we’ve let other teams babysit it for us long enough!
SSU: What is your favorite baseball movie of all time and why? If don’t have one, do you have a favorite sport movie of all time then?
Jeff: I’d have to say Field of Dreams. There’s just something about the movie that resonates with me. I saw it in the theater when it first came out, and everyone was mesmerized.
SSU: Last thoughts?
Jeff: At Memorial stadium, every day is Mardi Gras and every fan is king!