SEATTLE — She has achieved many firsts in her storied legal career but never before has this Washington State Supreme Court justice done this.
Mary Yu is not only a longtime justice on the state’s highest court. She is a devoted Seattle Mariners fan.
So, when the team asked her to throw out the first pitch in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, she eagerly said yes.
Yu has sat on the Washington State Supreme Court since 2014. Her appointment was a trio of firsts: first Asian, first Latina and first openly gay justice in the state.
“And I’m very proud of it,” said Yu. “I would say it took longer than it should have for us to be here and yet at the same time, I have to say that Ii just am thrilled with the opportunity to serve the public. I do believe that my life experience makes a difference at the table.”
But her lofty position has not shielded her from the indignity of still being seen as “the other.”
“Yes, there are times, because I like to wear a mandarin collar, especially under my robe,” she said. “I think it’s a beautiful style that (Seattle fashion designer) Luly Yang has designed for me. But every time I wear my black shirt, for some reason, people assume that I’m part of the wait staff. I have been handed dirty dishes. I’ve been handed dirty glasses in different receptions. It’s just an assumption people make when they look at me.”
And she has seen the images of violence that the Asian American Pacific Islander community has endured.
“It’s a painful part of our history,” she acknowledged. “And yet, at the same time, it’s our community that has really embraced this country, served when called to serve. And in the Northwest, I think we’ve made a difference.”
That difference extends to her open embrace of her LGBTQIA community, marching year after year in Seattle’s Pride Parade, the last time in the last parade before the pandemic.
“Especially because it’s 50 years after Stonewall, we’re celebrating life,” she said in 2019. “But we’re also recognizing how far we’ve come.”
Like all of her colleagues at the Temple of Justice, Yu often makes weighty, important decisions that can affect all of our lives. But at least just this once, she is putting all of that aside simply to throw a baseball.
“I have been practicing and getting ready for May 24, so, I have my shirt on,” she said, removing her judicial robe to reveal her Seattle Mariners “Ichiro” shirt. “I want you to know I have been tossing a baseball because I was told I have to throw the ball 60 feet.”
Yu is only the second state Washington State Supreme Court justice to take the mound at T-Mobile Park to throw out the first pitch to her beloved Seattle Mariners.
And no one cried foul.
Yu plans to march in this year’s Seattle Pride Parade, the first since COVID-19.