History and sports from 100 years ago still alive today

The idea for Kevin Ticen’s book, When It Mattered Most, started when he planned a centennial celebration of America’s first Stanley Cup win. The trophy was given a VIP tour of the city. Here it is shown at Queen Anne’s Kerry Park, during the Space Needle’s renovation in 2017.

The idea for Kevin Ticen’s book, When It Mattered Most, started when he planned a centennial celebration of America’s first Stanley Cup win. The trophy was given a VIP tour of the city. Here it is shown at Queen Anne’s Kerry Park, during the Space Needle’s renovation in 2017.

While Seattle sports history is powering Hollywood’s holiday lineup, another inspirational Seattle sports tale likewise received a new treatment. Queen Anne author Kevin Ticen has released the second edition of his book, “When It Mattered Most.”

When It Mattered Most tells the triumphant story of the Seattle Metropolitans, America’s first Stanley cup champions, as they claimed hockey’s greatest prize amidst the uncertainty of the United States entering World War I. The new second edition features an updated hardback cover and six additional chapters taking the story through the war’s conclusion, the Spanish Flu pandemic, and culminating with the monumental 1919 Stanley Cup Final.

Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat, calls Ticen’s book “a fine addition to the growing body of works that unveil forgotten chapters of Seattle’s sports history.” Brown knows these stories captivate us because the dramas of sports competitions present themselves like life in miniature. “Athletic struggles reveal character in the same way that war and other extreme events do, but with a lot less bloodshed,” Brown said.

While Brown was able to interview a few of his subjects to glean their story, Ticen’s heroes were all long since deceased. Instead, Ticen relied on newspaper accounts and his own athletic experiences to fill in gaps and bring the Mets story back to life. A former captain of the University of Washington baseball team, he played professionally in the Los Angeles Angels organization before returning to coach at UW and the 18U Boys of Summer teams.

While he was successful in carving out a career in sports as a player, coach, manager, and ambassador, he had not yet realized the role writing had played throughout his life. Raised by a writer, he had spent his coaching days writing speeches as well as recruiting and donor material, and his post-coaching days writing event bids and blog posts.

A chance meeting brought everything together.

Photo by Kym Otte

Kevin Ticen coaches the 18U Boys of Summer baseball team.


“Writing has always interested me. It is the thread that has run through every part of my life,” Ticen said.

In 2017, Ticen was working at the Seattle Sports Commission when he was asked to plan a centennial celebration for the Seattle team that had won America’s first Stanley Cup. Unaware that Seattle had ever won the Stanley Cup, he was quickly intrigued by the story and pitched multiple authors to write the story.

When he didn’t receive a response, he started researching the story in earnest.

“I was instantly hooked, and I had to figure out a way to write this story,” Ticen said.

He started poring through the microfiche film at Seattle Central Library. Quickly, an inspirational story was uncovered, and the rest is history.

Shaun Scott is another local author drawing upon the richness of Seattle history to enhance our lives. His newly released Heartbreak City outlines 170 years of how this community has rallied around their teams.

For his research, When It Mattered Most is one of the first books that he read. Scott said Ticen’s book uncovered an important story, “The Metropolitans were the first example of professional sports in Seattle and the city really united around the team.”

He noted the similarities to today’s enthusiasm surrounding the Kraken and Huskies. As an historian, Scott emphasizes continuity and remarked, “Things that excited the city 100 years ago are not so different from today.”

In addition to written accounts of the team, Ticen was able to explore other artifacts to bring the story to life with the help of a local collector. Dave Eskenazi is a Seattle history and sports buff. He has worked with the Mariners on historical tributes and has loaned the Kraken a pair of ice skates worn by Metropolitans star, Cully Wilson. And over the years, he has curated a scrapbook with original scorecards, tickets, and images of the Mets’ Hall of Fame players.

“I love the Metropolitans. It is such a rich story,” Eskenazi said.

 The players came together as a group while the world was facing the uncertainty of World War I and the aftermath of a pandemic.

Adding, “And 100 years later, Seattle finally gets the NHL and then a pandemic. The parallels are eerie.”

This year, the NHL’s annual outdoor hockey game, the Winter Classic, is coming to Seattle’s T-Mobile Park on New Year’s Day. Wearing Metropolitans inspired jerseys for the contest, the Kraken are additionally hosting the Enterprise NHL Fan Village, a free community event on December 29 and 30 to welcome guests. There will be family-friendly interactive games, special appearances, and a chance to take a photo with the greatest sports trophy: the Stanley Cup. More information can be found at https://www.nhl.com/events/2024-nhl-winter-classic.

From the past to the present, sports have played an important role in the history of Seattle. While The Boys in the Boat has finally found its way to the silver screen, one only wonders how long it will take until the Metropolitans story is similarly glorified. The books can be found at: