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Groz Remembers 2001 Mariners: Mark McLemore, the all-important 10th man

Mark McLemore was especially valuable to the 2001 M's as he played six positions well. (Getty)

2001: A Baseball Odyssey – a weekly look back at the record-setting 2001 Mariners and the players who got them there.

As the month of June worked into its later days, the Mariners were skipping along and getting ready to host the All-Star Game, which now seemed like it would become an M’s showcase.

M’s Takeaways: Servais on Haniger’s status, key to Fraley’s breakout

The team had no weakness and was stretching its huge lead in the American League West. In fact, as good as the Mariners were playing, it was almost like they were playing with 10 players while everyone else had nine.

In a way, that was true.

When 2001 started, the Mariners had brought in Bret Boone to play second base, and it looked like Mark McLemore, the incumbent from the 2000 season, would see spot duty at best. That was unacceptable to him, and as it turned out unacceptable to manager Lou Piniella, as well. So McLemore became the 10th starter – in the outfield, at third base, shortstop and second base – and started 125 games. But that’s just the beginning of his value.

At age 36, McLemore was at the top of his game and gave the Mariners a unique weapon that few teams possessed. His ability to not just play six positions but to play them very well made him an indispensable piece of the record-setting club.

June 21 was a typical McLemore game. He started at second and finished at shortstop, going 2 for 5 at the plate – increasing his season average to .299 – and stealing his 23rd base as the M’s outslugged the A’s 12-10. Seattle improved to 54-17 with the victory as it kept driving to the All-Star break.

Check out McLemore remembering the 2001 Mariners season along with teammates Jamie Moyer and Arthur Rhodes in this Clubhouse Chat video from the Mariners Virtual Baseball Bash earlier this year.

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More 2001 Mariners memories from Groz

Tom Lampkin, from Kingdome clubhouse boy to M’s catcher
Edgar Martinez cements his legacy with his last great season
Aaron Sele, the pitcher who ‘fell from the sky’
Bret Boone gave Seattle a huge, surprising boost
Paul Abbott, the forgotten hero of the historic ’01 M’s
Introduction: Celebrating the 2001 Mariners, 20 years later

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