The 1967 Major League Baseball winter meetings gave life to the Seattle Pilots, owned by former Cleveland Indians owner William R. Daley and former Pacific Coast League president Dewey Soriano. They entered the American League along with the Kansas City Royals as part of a hasty round of expansion triggered by the Kansas City Athletics' move to Oakland. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri had threatened to have baseball's antitrust exemption revoked unless Kansas City was promptly granted another team. They were originally slated to begin play in 1971, but Symington would not accept the prospect of having Kansas City wait three years for another team and pressured MLB to have the Royals and their expansion brethren (the Pilots and the National League's San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos) ready for play in 1969. Until a new stadium (what would become the Kingdome) was ready, the Pilots would play at Sick's Stadium, the home of the city's longtime PCL franchise, the Seattle Rainiers.
Manager Joe Schultz actually thought they could finish third in the newly formed, six-team American League West even though they had been badly out drafted by the Royals. However, to the surprise of almost no one outside Seattle, the Pilots were terrible. They won their very first game, and then their home opener three days later, but only won five more times in the first month and never recovered. They finished last in the West with a record of 64–98. In a sign that the Pilots were doomed for failure, Lou Piniella a 26-year-old rookie was traded at the end of spring training. Piniella was sent down a few weeks earlier despite having strong numbers in spring games. The problem was that Pilots manager Joe Schultz did not like Piniella, who was set to make $175, 000. The Pilots did not want to pay him, so they got rid of him. Piniella would end up with the American League's other 1969 expansion team the Kansas City Royals, and he would win that year's Rookie of the Year.
Opening day at Sick's Stadium, 1969The matter still hadn't been resolved by the end of spring training, leaving new manager Dave Bristol and the players unsure of where they would play. The team's equipment sat in Provo, Utah while the drivers awaited word to drive to Seattle or Milwaukee. After the state filed an injunction to stop the sale on March 17, Soriano and the Pilots filed for bankruptcy to forestall any more legal action. After general manager Marvin Milkes testified that the Pilots didn't have enough money to pay the players, the bankruptcy judge granted the Pilots' filing on April 1 and ruled the move to Milwaukee in order. MLB would not return to Seattle until 1977, when the Mariners entered the AL, along with the Toronto Blue Jays. One player from the 1969 Pilots would come back to the new team in 1977. Former Pilot Diego Segui would be a member of the inaugural Mariners. Diego would have the honor of throwing the first pitch in Mariners history. When the Kingdome would close in 1999, he would also have the honor of throwing the last pitch. His son David would also play for the Mariners, making them one of two father-son combos to play for the Mariners.