SEATTLE - As Ichiro was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees Monday afternoon, I was headed to Safeco Field to pick up my press pass. I was to interview Whitman College alumnus and Mariner communications director Tim Hevly.
It was a trip I had planned for months and could hardly believe my ears at the breaking news confirmed at the front gate.
Hevly was busy facilitating communication between the media, the Mariner front office and its players. It was a super-busy day for Hevly as he helped with the Ichiro press conference. My interview with him about his time at Whitman was set for Tuesday.
With Ichiro in right field for the Yankees for both games I witnessed, there was plenty of excitement. It was a farewell to Ichiro from his fans in Seattle.
On Tuesday - day two of Seattle's post-Ichiro era - Hevly took me through the clubhouse, onto the field and into the dugout for Eric Wedge's pre-game interview.
Wedge talked about the Mariners rebuilding with several young players. He was very well spoken.
"Nobody is smart enough to know what each of these young players is going to be," Wedge said. "We just don't know. That is why we keep putting them in different spots.
"But ultimately, what you're trying to do is win baseball games. So you put the lineup out there each day with the best balance and best chance to win."
Later, Hevly thought back to the early days of his career when the Mariners won 116 games with the likes of Edgar Martinez and Dan Wilson.
"Edgar Martinez and Dan Wilson were two of the nicest guys that I've ever met," Hevly said. "Edgar and Dan were about the same age as me then and we could relate to each other well."
Hevly has worked for the Mariners since 1990, when he started as an intern for two years in the same department that he now works in.
He worked hard and has seen his responsibilities continue to grow every couple of years. Today, he is the Senior Director of Baseball Information.
Hevly, a 1988 graduate of Whitman, was an English major and politics minor.
"Everyone agrees that Whitman is a great school," Hevly said. "It was also the perfect school for me at the time. Coming out of high school, I was a fairly quiet, kind of a blend-into-the-woodwork person and I thought it would be a good idea to go to school where it would be hard to just blend in after classes.
"I felt like if I went to a state school or somewhere else then I could still get a good education, but that I was worried I wouldn't get to be as involved as I was at Whitman."
While at Whitman, Hevly played four years under Max Seachris on the baseball team and did a lot of work-study hours in the athletic department.
Hevly did everything from cleaning the gym and selling popcorn at basketball games to working at the school newspaper, radio station and doing historical sporting records at the college.
"Spending time around the whole Whitman athletic department helped to guide me to what I thought would be fun to do once graduating from college," Hevly said. "I decided there that I wanted to work in sports."
It wasn't a direct path from Whitman to the Mariners management, but it wasn't as difficult as it may have been.
After graduating from Whitman, he got an entry-level job in the sports department at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He thought about staying in Walla Walla to work for the Union-Bulletin sports department, but chose to move back to where was raised in Seattle.
"After I graduated from Whitman, I knew I wanted to stay in sports," Hevly said. "I just didn't have a lot of things on my resume that screamed out to people that you should hire this person to work in sports."
In Seattle, while working at the Seattle P.I., Hevly earned a degree in athletic administration at Seattle Pacific University.
He wasn't that concerned about the master's degree, but more about the internships available to the students available while attending classes.
Hevly first got an internship at the University of Washington athletic department and then found the path to intern for the Mariners.
What exactly does Hevly now do for the Mariners? He and three Mariner staffers are responsible for most of the communication between the players, the media and other members of the Mariners office to the players.
"My department, baseball information, mainly works with the players and media," he said. "When the clubhouse opens to the media, we oversee that aspect of it. We work with the media and we schedule interviews with the players. Our players need to get their work in and the media needs to get their work done."
Hevly works with television rights holder ROOT Sports, and the radio rights holder ESPN 710 AM, to facilitate player interviews, as well.
A subdivision of the Mariner's communication department, Hevly also helps to oversee the Mariners publications, including the media guide and the Mariner magazines.
A lot of hours go into the job, especially when the Mariners are in town for home games. The offices open at 8:30 a.m. and the work continues well after the home game is over.
Hevly attends nearly all home games, and he travels with the team about half of its road trips.
The offseason is more of a 9-to-5 job for Hevly, but winters get busier every year.
"Now, because of the 24-hour news cycle with the online media and with other media pressures, we keep busier than ever before," Hevly said. "The game has also changed with the increase in player movement. That's a lot more work for the general manager, baseball operations people and baseball information people."
With all the responsibilities and people that Hevly must work with now, he thinks back to his past at Whitman. He thinks about how it helped prepare him for the life he has now.
"Certainly at Whitman, it is designed to teach you how to synthesize information. It is a real advantageous skill to have with what I do now," he said. "I learned at Whitman how to be able to listen to different points of view and understand what both sides are talking about. Then you decide what you think is fair."