Saluting a class act

national anthem.JPGAs one of many thousands of Americans who have been involved in a war — Vietnam, 1968-69 for me — there are certain things that stand out.

One of them for me is the way so many Mariners are on the field during the National Anthem.

So I asked manager Don Wakamatsu about it.

“I think it’s important to show respect to all the soldiers who are fighting for us, which allows us to play this game,” he said. “I think it shows disrespect sometimes when guys don’t come out.”

During a recent series against the Blue Jays, I counted the difference. There were 23 players, coaches or other club personnel standing in front of the first-base dugout during the playing of both National Anthems. There were two players from the Blue Jays — one standing on the top step of the dugout and one in shallow left field, in sight.

Among the topics Wakamatsu discussed with his players during Spring Training  was being on the field during the National Anthem.

“It’s not a mandated thing,” he said. “But when you see guys like (Mike) Sweeney and Griff (Ken Griffey Jr.) out there showing their respect for the people fighting overseas, it’s nice. We  have received letters from soldiers all over the world expressing their gratitude, but that’s not the reason we do it.”

They do it because it’s a respectful thing to do.

And whenever a color guard is included in the National Anthem, you will notice that the Mariners don’t immediately walk away after the National Anthem is finished.

“We stay out there until they unholster the flag,” Wakamatsu said.

When the Yankees and Mariners begin a four-game series tonight at Safeco Field, it will be interesting to see how many players from each team are on the field with their caps off and their attention on the latest rendition of our National Anthem.

Call me old and naive, but it seems to me that it’s far more important for every MLB team to be on the field during the National Anthem than how many gladiator helmets are in the bullpen.

— Jim Street

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