On October 5, 2001, the Seattle Mariners become the winningest team in American League history for a regular season with a 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers. The 115th win breaks a tie with the 1998 New York Yankees, who finished 114-48.
After the Mariners’ win, Yankees manager Joe Torre, who managed the 1998 powerhouse, told the Washington Post: “I said somebody would hit 80 homers before somebody would break the [114 wins] record.”
Leading Seattle to a victory that day was 38-year-old Jamie Moyer, who improved to 20-6 and became the oldest first-time, 20-game winner in Major League Baseball history. Bret Boone and John Olerud homered in the Mariners’ win.
Seattle split its final two regular-season games to finish with a 116-46 record (a .716 winning percentage), tying the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most wins in MLB history. The Cubs accomplished the feat in 10 fewer games, going 116-36 (.763 winning percentage). Like the 1906 Cubs, the Mariners fell short of winning it all, losing in the American League Championship Series to the Yankees.
Despite not finishing the season the way they hoped, the 2001 Mariners were an astonishing turnaround story. In 1998, the team had three premier players in their primes: pitcher Randy Johnson, outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and shortstop Alex Rodriguez. Johnson and Griffey were traded in 1998 and 1999, and A-Rod left in free agency after the 2000 season.
With some of the pieces they received in those trades—shortstop Carlos Guillen, pitcher Freddy Garcia and center fielder Mike Cameron—plus Japanese phenom Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners dominated in the regular season. Suzuki was the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year.
Boone, looking back on the team’s accomplishments would later say, “I think if you assembled an All-Star team and put them in our division, they couldn’t win 116 games.”