Locker Enjoys Safeco Field Experience
July 10, 2010
SEATTLE - Raising his hand in the air to acknowledge the Huskies fans in attendance, Jake Locker took to the mound at Safeco Field and gunned a strike down the middle.
The University of Washington quarterback was part of the pregame festivities at Safeco Field, where he was on hand to toss the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners-Yankees game on Saturday night. Although Locker spent plenty of time warming up beforehand, firing a few baseballs to his father Scott from the indoor pitching rubber, there were a lot of nerves as he headed to the mound.
"The only thing you don't want to do is bounce it," Locker said, noting advice from his coach, Steve Sarkisian.
No worries about that.
Locker reached back and seared a fastball over the plate to reliever Shawn Kelley, to the delight a near-sold out crowd at Safeco. He later joked he would have rather fired it off the backstop than bounce it.
The Ferndale native grew up a Mariners fan, and those loyalties took deep roots during the team's run to the American League Championship Series in 1995. Like most kids who grew up in the Pacific Northwest during this time, his favorite player was Ken Griffey Jr.
Locker is known for his abilities as a baseball player as well. He was a prodigious enough ballplayer out of Ferndale High School that he was named the state's 3A Player of the Year. He was twice-drafted by Major League Baseball and in 2009, he signed a six-year rights agreement with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Locker is not the first Husky to throw out the first pitch at a Mariners game this season. Quincy Pondexter also held the honor after leading the men's basketball team to an appearance in the Sweet 16.
During the sixth inning, Locker spent time in the broadcast booth talking with play-by-play analyst Rick Rizzs and color commentator - and UW baseball alum - Mike Blowers. The topics of conversation ranged from the experience out on the mound and the excitement surrounding the upcoming season.
Joining Locker at Safeco were plenty of family and friends from Ferndale and Seattle, along with several members of the Washington football team.