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Washougal man and lifelong Mariners fan completes mission of playing catch every day for a year

John Scukanec wrapped up his year-long mission with a game of catch with Ken Griffey Jr. at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.

SEATTLE — A Washougal man who embarked on a life mission to play a game of catch every day for a year has reached the finish line. 

"If you would've told me on day one I'd make it to 365 I might've believed you," John Scukanec said. "I was determined to do it."

Scukanec spent Wednesday, day 365, playing catch with Seattle Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington.

"A year ago I played catch with my son in the backyard and 365 days later I'm on the field at T-Mobile Park with my hero," Scukanec said. "That doesn't happen. It doesn't make sense that it happened so to have that unfold like that— incredible."

Like most of his games of catch, Scukanec tweeted about his encounter with Griffey Jr. The tweet was accompanied by a video that showed Scukanec and Griffey Jr. walking out onto the field.

"It's only 365 days," said Griffey Jr. in the video. 

The night before playing catch with Griffey Jr., Scukanec tossed the ball around with Super Bowl XLVIII champion Bryan Walters outside T-Mobile Park. 

"He’s caught throws from Russell Wilson & now me. Thanks for letting me wear the ring! #catch365," Scukanec said in the Tweet.

KGW first met Scukanec last summer when he met KGW's Mike Benner at Vancouver's Esther Short Park for a game of catch.

“[The] glove, the ball, the sound it makes ... it’s beautiful,” Scukanec said.

Scukanec's desire to connect with people is ultimately why he attempted what many would consider something truly out of left field — a game of catch with somebody every day for 365 days.

“It was March 2,” Scukanec said. “The day they canceled the start of the baseball season because of the lockout.”  

That is when the lifelong Mariners fan kicked off his year-long endeavor. In fact, Scukanec vividly remembers sharing the idea with his wife and boys, who were skeptical.

Scukanec would share a catch with dozens upon dozens of people over the year. Among them were a sandwich delivery guy, a baseball coach in Oregon City, and former Major League Baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer. 

“It's been so encouraging to me,” said Ethan Bryan, who understood more than anybody what Scukanec was doing. Bryan, of Springfield, Missouri, played catch every day for a year back in 2018. He even authored a book about the experience called "A Year of Playing Catch."

“The further I get from it the more I am able to reflect on it and the more I learn how important play is to us,” Bryan said. “Not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. What I'm taking away from it still is we live in a play-deprived culture where we've forgotten how to trust one another.”

Bryan was Scukanec’s inspiration.

“It's just a catch until it's not,” Scukanec said. “Some days we're just playing catch and some days it's more than that, and the cool thing is you never know until you ask someone to play catch and then you find out.”

Credit: John Scukanec
The ball Griffey Jr. signed for Scukanec.

Griffey Jr. accepted Scukanec's invitation to play catch. The two spent about 45 minutes together. Griffey Jr. even signed his own glove and a ball so Scukanec could remember their game of catch and ultimately the year-long journey.

"I learned early on it's not about baseball at all and I thought it would be," Scukanec said. "I thought it was playing catch with someone and it became more than that. It became a way to connect."

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