“Three years ago I was in Los Angeles during an earthquake, I know what they can do. I turned around (and) my producer was as white as a sheet, things were rolling back and forth in the booth and I said, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re having an earthquake – and I’m out of here.
“We ran down the ramps and once I was outside I went into the TV truck and got on the telephone to the station. Was there dead air? You’d have to ask KIRO, I wasn’t around. I didn’t want to go down with the ship.”
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Ken Griffey Jr., who was in the Kingdome clubhouse weighing himself on a scale, said: “I thought I was having another dizzy spell. This is my second [earthquake] and I don’t like them at all.”
On the other hand, the Seattle Times had Griffey, who’d been suffering from an inner ear infection, saying: “I thought I was dizzy again until I looked around and everyone was holding onto things to stay steady. Then I realized it was an earthquake. It was cool. I like earthquakes.”
Pitcher Sterling Hitchcock: “I thought the crowd was just going nuts, then I realized that there weren’t that many people here and it clicked in. The whole place just shook back and forth and I said ‘What was that?’ It’s a pretty life-threatening situation in here.”
14 years later, this quake seems to be most famous for its relationship to the Kingdome and the Mariners. On May 4, Timothy Egan, writing in the New York Times, said:
It has been 31 years since the last major earthquake, a jolt that measured 6.5 and caused seven deaths.
Enough time has passed, and enough new people have moved to the Seattle area, that an earthquake like the one on Thursday is considered a thrill. ”It was really cool,” one Kingdome fan said as she left the game.
Today, after structural engineers again pronounced the nine acres of concrete unscathed, Mr. Locke said the county had been vindicated.
”Our experts were right when they told us the Kingdome was one of the safest places to be in Seattle during an earthquake,” Mr. Locke said.
Fans seemed to agree. There was stream of ticket-buyers at the Kingdome window today. By late today, both weekend games were nearly sellouts, with more than 100,000 tickets gone.
”Scared?” remarked Don Rogers, who was buying tickets this morning at the dome. ”Are you kidding? I’m just mad I can’t get a decent seat until next week’s games. I’ve lived here all my life, and earthquakes are just a fact of life.”
Another ticket buyer, Dave Fisher, recently moved to Seattle from Baltimore. The earthquake did not frighten him off, either. But he was amused by the television coverage, with cameras and helicopters desperately searching for a crack — any crack — in western Washington.
”They called this Earthquake ’96,” Mr. Fisher said. ”I’ve felt the earth move more back in Baltimore’s Camden Yards during a rally.”