Students at Hawthorne Elementary School got a thrill last week when the the Seattle Mariners caravan pulled into town on Jan. 18.
Players James Paxton, Cody Martin and Dan Vogelbach joined broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith as part of the Mariner Moose DREAM Team, a fun-filled program that stresses the importance of being drug-free, respecting yourself and others, education through reading, maintaining a positive attitude and staying motivated to achieve your dreams.
It was a special return for Hawthorne alumnus Paxton. The former North Delta Blue Jay said the chance to come back to his old school was a nice reward for being able to give back to the kids as a Major League Baseball player.
“It’s surreal to be back here walking down this hallway, and it’s really special to share this stuff with the kids,” Paxton said.
He admitted to being a little surprised at how exuberant the kids were to meet the players and Moose, the Mariners mascot. The starting pitcher spent an extra 20 minutes or so taking selfies and signing autographs after the event, and even gave the school his autographed jersey from the event to put on display.
Paxton said he believes it’s a positive sign to have a school show such a strong interest in baseball.
“Baseball in Canada has been getting better and better over the years, especially with the [Toronto] Blue Jays winning. People are getting excited,” he said. “Hopefully the Mariners can become a team that can get to the postseason and get some of those fans to be fans for us.”
Vogelbach, a first baseman who made his major league debut on Sept. 12, 2016, said it’s a special thing to be able to give back to communities as a professional player.
“It’s why we play, if it wasn’t for the fans and it wasn’t for the kids, we wouldn’t get to do what we do.”