FanFest draws second-largest crowd

Mariners welcome 22,730 to two-day event at Safeco

FanFest draws second-largest crowd

SEATTLE -- After a record-setting gathering at Saturday's Mariners FanFest, the crowds slowed a bit on a rainy Sunday, but the two-day event still finished with the second-highest attendance figure in its 19-year history.

Following the first-day crowd of 12,360 -- which was a record for a Saturday session -- another 10,370 enjoyed the event at Safeco Field on Sunday. The combined attendance of 22,730 ranked second to 2015's record of 25,290 and was a small hike from last year's 21,711.

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Rain forced the stadium roof to be closed about halfway through Sunday's festivities, but that didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of either the fans or the players, who spent the two days giving autographs, answering questions and even lending a hand to kids who were throwing pitches in the bullpen or hitting in the outfield.

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"All around the ballpark, you see the fans and they're really happy and excited for the season to start," said center fielder Leonys Martin. "It's amazing to see a lot of people out here. You kind of feel like it's Opening Day. Everybody is so happy to be here and I'm so happy to wear the Seattle Mariners uniform."

Martin and fellow returning players James Paxton and Dan Altavilla were joined by key newcomers Jarrod Dyson, Drew Smyly, Danny Valencia and Mitch Haniger and promising prospects Kyle Lewis, Tyler O'Neill and Andrew Moore.

"It's awesome," said Moore, a former Oregon State pitching standout who grew up in Eugene, Ore. "This is a beautiful facility and these fans have been waiting for a team like [general manager Jerry] Dipoto has built -- a playoff contender -- they've been waiting for that for a while. You can definitely feel the awesome and it's awesome to be part of an organization like this."

O'Neill, Moore at FanFest

Dyson, who helped the Royals win a World Series title in 2015, brought his energy and promise of bigger things to come in Seattle.

Asked by fan during one of the question-and-answer sessions if he was going to bring Mariners fans a ring, Dyson dropped the line of the day Sunday.

Answered Dyson: "Wherever I go, the champagne flow."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.