Clyde H. MacIver BA’59, JD’61 was the first Harley Davidson rider to complete the Iron Butt Endurance Run, a 10-day, 12,500-mile posterior-busting circumnavigation of the United States. The bike he chose, a 1983 Harley Davidson FXRS, is a “raw-boned motorcycle” with no luxuries or comforts. During the competition, MacIver fought through muscle aches, fatigue and extreme weather changes to log 1,000 miles a day for roughly 22 hours each day.
The race is not for the weak of heart. Participants are told nothing in advance about the route. Instead, riders are given an envelope containing only the name of the next destination and the time they need to be there. MacIver’s journey took him from Reno, Nev., to Jacksonville, Fla., and back. It is that kind of grit and stamina that makes MacIver a legend among motorcyclists and a top attorney in one of major league baseball’s most recognized sports franchises.
These days MacIver, executive vice president and general counsel for the Seattle Mariners, has little time to channel his inner road warrior. As the Mariners’ top attorney, he oversees the franchise’s legal department, as well as its government, public and community relations. The job is huge and pressure filled. The Mariners bring more than
3.5 million people to downtown Seattle each year. The organization’s impact on the local economy also brings much public scrutiny.
“We operate in a fish bowl,” MacIver noted. “Everyone thinks he knows how to run a sports team. You read about yourself everyday in the papers, so you have to be very measured and thoughtful about what you say publicly.”
MacIver, who worked in private practice for nearly 40 years before joining the Mariners, relishes his role. A typical workday might find him dealing with irate ticket scalpers, entertaining a major political figure, or even puzzling out the legal and logistical issues of hosting 60,000 screaming Wrestlemania fans.
Sometimes, however, MacIver just needs to get away from it all. In these moments, he trades in his suit and tie for jeans and a worn-out leather jacket and heads for the open road. It is the same need to feel the wind in his face that he has had since a high school student in Yakima, Wash., when he drove a souped-up ’37 Chevy and organized drag races for his friends. It is also the same impulse that drove him, at age 16, to get up at 4 a.m. and sweep grocery store lots to earn money for flying lessons. He became a licensed pilot at 18.
MacIver credits his parents’ patience and understanding with enabling him to find his own path. They not only tolerated his fast cars and flying lessons, they encouraged him to explore career options that would make him happy.
His father, Ian MacIver JD’30, a district court judge in Washington state, never expected MacIver to study or practice law. In fact, the elder MacIver tried to discourage his son from becoming a lawyer. “He thought law was a very tough way to earn a living, and it is,” MacIver noted.
Despite his father’s protests, MacIver developed a genuine interest in law as an undergraduate at Willamette. He decided to attend Willamette’s College of Law because of the caliber of the school’s faculty. “You can learn the law anywhere, but the professors at Willamette are exceedingly high quality people,” he said. “You admire them not just as teachers of the law, but also as human beings.”
The knowledge and values imparted by Willamette’s professors profoundly influenced MacIver. After graduating, he quickly rose to managing partner for a Seattle law firm that would eventually bear his name, Sax and MacIver, and earned a reputation as one of the Northwest’s premiere experts in regulatory administrative law and commercial litigation. In the 1970s, he served as special assistant attorney general for the state of Washington, defending the state’s citizens in disputes over rate hikes by telecommunication companies. From 1985 to 2000, he helped grow the Seattle office of the Portland law firm of Miller Nash from one attorney to more than 40.
In 2000, he joined the Mariners and has been in the spotlight ever since. When the public and corporate pressures heat up, MacIver hops on his Harley to gain some much-needed perspective and solitude. He often rides alone, sometimes motoring down to Nevada or southern California. According to MacIver, riding his motorcycle lets him see the world from a different perspective and meet different kinds of people — the perfect antidote to his fishbowl existence in Seattle. “I like to get away from the suits of the world,” he joked.
Back at his home in Seattle, MacIver’s Harley is dirty and smudged with dead bugs, evidence of a recent trip to central Oregon. “I haven’t had the time to clean it since I got back,” he said, looking apologetic.
The apology is unnecessary. MacIver’s bike is maintained with the kind of careful attention exhibited only by a true motorcyclist. If MacIver had the time, the bike would be spotless. Actually, if he had the time, he would ride his bike 1,000 miles a day. However, today there are contracts to oversee, regulations to check, city officials to meet, a Congressman to escort and Wrestlemania fans to contend with….
Clyde H. MacIver BA’59, JD’61
“The professors at Willamette are exceedingly high quality people. You admire them not just as teachers of the law, but also as human beings.”