Jim Caple

Danny Kaye And The Mariners

We’re in the midst of the December holiday season, and at some time most of you have probably seen the great and fun movie “White Christmas,’’ which came out in 1954 and starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. But did you also know that Danny Kaye also was an original owner of the Mariners?

Yes, he and his business partner Lester Smith were part owners of the Mariners beginning in 1976, just before the team’s first season. There were four other owners – Stanley Golub, Walter Schoenfield, James Stillwell Jr. and James Walsh. Their first general manager was Dick Vertlieb, then Lou Gorman. Their first manager was Darrell Johnson followed by Maury Wills in 1980.

Wills was a logical pick as manager since although Kaye was a Mariners co-owner, he was a big fan of the Dodgers. In fact, he wrote the song “D-O-D-G-E-R-S’’ in 1962 which mentions Wills several times in it . He also had former Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly in that song.

The Mariners did not do well while Kaye owned them, which is usually the case with a brand new team. Their best record was 67-95 in 1979 and their worst was in 1980 when they went 59-103. They drew 1,338,511 fans in their first season, but never reached 900,000 the next three years. After the poor start, the team was sold in 1980 to George Argyros, who owned the Mariners until 1989. There have been three other owners since then: Jeff Smulyan and comedian David Letterman, Howard Lincoln (as well as Japan-based Nintendo) and current owner John Stanton.

Hopefully, Stanton, who has long been a Mariners fan, will get them into the playoffs soon, which they haven’t been in since 2001. And which Kaye obviously never got them to. Although perhaps he could have done so by trading for some great Dodgers players had he remained a Mariners owner after 1980.

Kaye, who passed away 32 years ago at age 74 in 1987 from a heart attack, had been a great singer and actor. Which is why this holiday season, you should watch “White Christmas,’’ in which he performs so well as a co-entertainer with Crosby.

And while watching it, you should also shout “Go Mariners!’’ when they take the stage.