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Thursday, January 16, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sherry Grindeland / Times staff columnist

When Mariners' Martnez talks, baseball umpires come running

Seattle Mariners player Edgar Martínez surprised a few umpires Tuesday.

Martínez and his wife, Holli, were at Overlake Hospital Medical Center for a photo session because they're co-chairing Overlake's capital campaign. The session was in a conference room, right next to the hospital's education-center auditorium.

When the videotaping began, no one realized the sound was being fed into the auditorium where the Northwest Baseball Umpire Association was meeting.

From above the umpires came a loud, "Hello, this is Edgar Martínez."

They cleared the auditorium as fast as a Martínez homer clears the bases, said Katie McCarthy, hospital spokeswoman.

The officials rushed next door to greet the Martínezes.

Tuned in: Senior Katie Yeager excitedly told friends at Skyline High School on Monday that her father, reporter John Yeager, was coming to school to tape a story for KCPQ-TV.

One classmate, overhearing the story, dashed home at lunch to change clothes. Everything he put on had the name and logo of his father's employer.

When the KCPQ crew arrived that afternoon, Chris Van Cise stayed in the vicinity of the cameras and made certain the television folks saw his apparel.

He's the son of KOMO-TV's Rick Van Cise.

Could have been a rating war there in Issaquah — Yeager and Chris Van Cise are both in Rick Johnson's television-production class along with senior Brett Thielke, whose father works at KIRO-TV.

A fourth station has student connections at the school. Greg Thies, the father of sophomore Brittany Thies, works for KING-TV.

Tune in: Entertainment comes with lunch at Bellevue's Factoria Mall tomorrow.

The mall-management staff members persuaded maintenance and security supervisor Ben Aquino to go public when they discovered how talented the 40-plus-year-old is.

Turns out Aquino performed professionally in Europe and on cruise ships before changing careers.

"You can work with people for years before you discover all their talents," said Factoria manager Craig Chang. "At Christmas we heard him sing "White Christmas" and were all impressed."

Aquino specializes in standards, and tomorrow's lunchtime concert, from noon to 1 p.m. in Center Court, has been billed as Ben Sings Sinatra.

That's appropriate, said Susan Allen , who volunteers in the Bellevue Police Department's Factoria Community Station.

"Ben sang at our Christmas volunteer party," she said. "He has an absolutely wonderful voice, very similar to (Frank) Sinatra, (Perry) Como, etc."

Sweet note: Debra DeFotis of Bellevue will do just about anything to promote Bellevue Chamber Chorus.

Saturday that included wearing a chocolate-kiss costume and giving candy to 500 children and their families at the two performances of Standing Ovation for Kids.

DeFotis was a hit during intermission and before and after the variety show that featured Village Theatre's KidStage, the Heng Da Chinese Dance Academy, Ballet Bellevue, Bellevue Martial Arts Academy, Kirkland Dance Center, children's entertainer Tim Noah, and soloists Mikeala Holland and Caitlin Vincent from Bellevue.

"Children kept asking if they could come back on Sunday," DeFotis said. "I'm not sure which they liked better, the show or the free chocolate kisses I was handing out."

No kidding: Kim-Thanh Do of Mercer Island doesn't kid around when it comes to saving for her daughter's college education.

She and her daughter, Mary Rose Vu, are even featured in a television commercial.

Do enrolled Mary Rose in Washington's Guaranteed Education Tuition program, in which families can pay for college credits at today's prices even though their children may not be ready for college for a decade or more. Mary Rose is only 3 years old.

Another Eastside family, Audrey and Mario Rodriguez of Sammamish, and their children Naomi and Fortuné are also featured.

For information on the tuition-savings program, go to www.get.wa.gov.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com.

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