Perhaps no player has had an impact on the Seattle Mariners franchise quite like Mark Langston.
Langston, a former big-league pitcher, has spawned a lineage of current and former Mariners that maintain roots within the organization today. Like the patriarch of a family tree, Langston is the father of a series of fortuitous circumstances that have come to benefit the Seattle ballclub for more than two decades.
June 8, 1981: Langston is drafted by the Mariners in the second round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft. The lefthander out of San Jose State University signs with the organization nine days later.
April 7, 1984: Langston makes his Major League Debut for the Mariners, earning a win over Milwaukee in his inaugural outing. The rookie pitches seven innings, allowing two earned runs, scattering four hits, and striking out five. He would go on to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting in that ’84 season, behind teammate Alvin Davis, and emerge as the ace of a young pitching staff. Over the course of the next four-and-a-half seasons, Langston would compile a 74-67 win-loss record, 4.01 ERA, and lead the league in strikeouts on three occasions as an emerging force on some bad Mariners’ teams.
May 25, 1989: The Mariners trade Langston and a “player to be named later” to the Montreal Expos in exchange for three pitching prospects. RHPs Brian Holman and Gene Harris, as well as LHP Randy Johnson arrive in Seattle in Langston’s stead (RHP Mike Campbell is later sent to Montreal as the PTBNL).
May 27, 1989: 24-year-old Brian Holman makes his Seattle debut in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He will pitch two more seasons for the Mariners, before his final MLB appearance on September 22, 1991. He will bounce around the minor leagues for a few seasons after that, but due to injury and ineffectiveness be forced into early retirement.
May 30, 1989: 25-year-old Randy Johnson makes his Seattle debut, pitching six innings in a win over the New York Yankees. The victory foreshadows a nine-year career with the Mariners that will result in a Cy Young award, frequent appearances on the pitching leaderboards, and many of the team’s playoff victories.
June 7, 1989: 24-year-old Gene Harris makes his Seattle debut, in long relief of a 9-6 loss to Kansas City. Harris will remain with the Mariners until 1992, when he is ultimately traded to San Diego for minor league prospect Will Taylor. Taylor never reaches the big leagues.
July 31, 1998: After nearly a decade with Seattle, Randy Johnson is traded to the Houston Astros on deadline day in exchange for a package of prospects. RHP Freddy Garcia and SS Carlos Guillen are shipped to the Mariners along with a PTBNL, who turns out to be LHP John Halama.
December 21, 2002: After four seasons with the Mariners, John Halama becomes a free agent and signs with Oakland.
January 8, 2004: After five-plus seasons with the Mariners, Carlos Guillen is traded to Detroit in exchange for minor leaguer Juan Gonzalez (no relation to the former Texas Ranger outfielder of the same name) and infielder Ramon Santiago. Gonzalez never reaches the bigs, and less than two years later, Santiago is released by the M’s and re-signed by the Tigers, where he still plays today.
June 27, 2004: After nearly six seasons with the Mariners, Freddy Garcia is traded along with catcher Ben Davis to the Chicago White Sox. In exchange, the Mariners receive SS Mike Morse, C Miguel Olivo, and OF Jeremy Reed. Only Morse still remains with the Seattle Mariners organization. He is currently playing at Triple-A Tacoma.
July 31, 2005: Barely one year after becoming a Mariner, Miguel Olivo is traded by the Mariners to San Diego in exchange for minor leaguer Nathaneal Mateo (never reaches bigs, no longer with organization) and C Miguel Ojeda. Ojeda is waived by the Mariners in October of the same year, and subsequently claimed off waivers by the Colorado Rockies.
December 10, 2008: After just over three years of service with the M’s organization, Jeremy Reed is sent to the New York Mets organization as part of a three team, 12-player trade that also involves the Cleveland Indians. In exchange for Reed, closer J.J. Putz, and minor leaguer Luis Valbuena, the Mariners receive RHP Aaron Heilman, LHP Jason Vargas, and OF Endy Chavez from the Mets, as well as OF Franklin Gutierrez from Cleveland. Chavez is the Mariners’ current starting left fielder, Gutierrez is the current starting center fielder, and Vargas is pitching at Triple-A Tacoma.
January 28, 2009: The M’s trade newly acquired pitcher Aaron Heilman to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for LHP Garrett Olson and SS Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno is currently a backup utility man on the Mariners 25-man roster, while Olson is pitching at Triple-A Tacoma.
The Langston lineage is still represented in the forms of the following players: OF Mike Morse (Tacoma), LHP Jason Vargas (Tacoma), OF Endy Chavez (Seattle), OF Franklin Gutierrez (Seattle), SS Ronny Cedeno (Seattle), and LHP Garrett Olson (Tacoma).
And so the legend continues….