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Celebrating the birth of the Mariner Moose, 33 years ago at Central Elementary

In 1989, Central Elementary 5th grader Ammon Spiller had an idea that changed Seattle baseball history. In a mascot contest for the Seattle Mariners that year, he suggested they add a moose to their roster. 

The next year, Spiller’s entry was chosen out of winning more than 2,000 potential mascots created by kids across the Pacific Northwest. By that spring, his creation, the Mariner Moose, was roaming the Kingdome turf, and it still entertains crowds today. 

“I choose the moose because no other team has a moose,” Spiller wrote at the time, according to a 1990 Seattle Times article. “Mooses (sic) are funny, neat and friendly…I could easily imagine a moose doing something to make the audience or fans laugh, but I can't imagine a snake or a fly or something else like that.” 

The other finalists included Seaward the Sea Monster and Mightyball the Seal. 

However, Spiller originally had a different animal in mind, according to Lisa Lockwood, his teacher at the time. The 11-year-old initially pitched the “Mariner Mongoose,” but his art teacher, Laurie Iverson, encouraged him to refine his idea, while sticking with alliteration. The student came up with a moose on his second attempt. 

“We agreed that a mongoose was not a very attractive mascot,” Lockwood, still a teacher at Central today, said. “Also, we don’t have mongoose in Washington, but we do have some moose. In fact, we’ve had some moose here in Ferndale!” 

The Mariners and their brand-new mascot visited Central Elementary in 1990, as a reward for birthing the Mariner Moose. Lockwood said the kids had a great time. 

“It was a massive assembly, the kids were so blown away by it,” she said. “To have seen these people that are on TV, that’s a neat thing.” 

Both Spiller and Central Elementary School each received $1,000 from the Mariners as a reward. Lockwood said she believes the money was mainly spent on books and recess equipment. In an interview last year with Bellingham radio station 92.9 KISM, Spiller said he was scheduled to throw the first pitch during a Mariners game in 1990, but because of an ownership shuffle that offseason, that was postponed until 1997. However, he did meet the new owner of the team, Jeff Smulyan. 

Spiller seemed to have fond memories and a good sense of humor about his brief brush with fame. He even briefly put his creation of the Mariner Moose on resumes after graduating college. 

“I peaked in 5th grade, what can I say?” Spiller joked during the radio interview. 

Multiple schoolmates of Spiller at Central still have memories of his winning mascot submission and the Mariners’ visit to Ferndale. 

“He was such a gifted artist,” said DeAnna Marshall. “I remember creating a drawing myself; can’t remember what I drew, but I do remember Ammon’s.” 

“My niece and nephew are blown away that I know who created the moose,” said Shawna DePhillips McKay.