The Seattle Mariners have never won a World Series. They've never won an American League Championship, though they’ve been close a few times.
But through the many ups and downs of the Mariners' tenure, the voice of Mariners' announcer Dave Niehaus has remained constant: droning and emphatic, ready to hit the roof at any sign of a line drive to deep right field.
He has the classic sort of voice that would sound as at home on a tinny 1920s-era radio as it does now on brand new 5.1 surround sound. He has become the voice of the Seattle Mariners, as well as one of the seminal sports media figures in history.
Niehaus called the inaugural pitch of the Mariners franchise in 1977, after being hired by singing/acting legend Danny Kaye, and has since called over 4,900 Mariners games.
He has narrated the home runs of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Edgar Martinez, the countless hundred-mile-an-hour fastballs of Randy Johnson, and the eruption of volcanic temper tantrums put on by Coach Lou Piniella as he berated umpires on what felt like a daily basis.
And through all of this, he has never announced a single World Series game.
But he hardly needs to. His play-by-plays have certainly caught the eye (or ear, rather) of Cooperstown, as he has received the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence in Baseball, and in 2000 he was inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame.
His catchphrases like "My, Oh My!" and "Swung on, and Belted..." are now commonly used in the Seattle baseball vernacular, and will likely remain that way long after Niehaus has retired.
So here is a slide show dedicated to a few of the moments in Niehaus’ career that have been truly great, the moments that put Niehaus’ name alongside the greats of Sports Broadcasting.
1995 was a phenomenal year for Dave Niehaus and the whole Mariners franchise. His famous catchphrase “Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma! its Grand Salami time!” came during an away game against the Detroit Tigers game where Tino Martinez belted a grand slam.
There is much speculation as to when exactly this phrase was first coined, but in an interview Niehaus claimed that it was Martinez’s grand slam that started it.
Since then the phrase “Grand Salami” has become a regular part of sports-talk and is a staple in Niehaus’ long list of famous baseball adages.
Though this instance in Mariners’ history will only appear as a “strike” in the record books, it holds much more significance than that. The first pitch on opening day in 1977 was the first pitch in Mariners history.
It was delivered by hotshot pitcher Diego Segui. It was also the call that started Niehaus’ career. From this point on, Mariners fans fell in love with the raspy voice of Dave Niehaus.
There is a reason you see thousands of hand held radios accompanying fans as they sit in the bleachers at Safeco (or the Kingdome if you have been around).
The games just aren’t the same without Niehaus’ voice blaring through a set of speakers.
Though this bit takes place outside the park, the Ford C. Frick accolades that Dave Niehaus has received are as important as the moments that take place around the diamond.
Because he has done so much to make weak seasons exciting and strong seasons memorable, the addition of his name into the record books seem to be a fitting addition to a list of great Mariner Moments.
An excerpt from his Award speech:
“I just wish everybody could experience the feeling I’m having now. There will never be anything like it again in my lifetime...”
The Seattle Mariners scored their first post-season game in 1995. Due to a strike that shortened the regular season by about 20 games, the Mariners were forced to participate in a one-game playoff against the California Angels, as both the teams had identical records.
The Mariners brought down the house, winning 9-1 and solidifying themselves in the AL West. It was in this game that Niehaus perfectly described what everyone was thinking when Randy Johnson struck out the final batter:
“Now the left-hander ready, branding iron hot, the 1-2 pitch....K insert it! It's over! Right over the heart of the plate! Randy looks to the skies...and bedlam! The Mariners now erupt! Nineteen long years of frustration is over!”
Arguably the defining moment of the Mariners’ franchise history came in the 11th inning of game five of the American League Division Series.
With Joey Cora on second base and Ken Griffey, Jr. on first, Edgar Martinez sent a double careening into deep right field, allowing both Cora and Griffey to score.
After coming back from an 0-2 deficit, the Mariners sealed their first playoff victory as a major league team. Niehaus’ play-by-play came to define this play in the collective memory of sports fans all over Seattle.
"The stretch and the 0–1 pitch on the way to Edgar Martinez: Swung on and lined down the left field line for a base hit! Here comes Joey! Here is Junior to third base; they're going to wave him in! The throw...LATE!
The Mariners are going to play for the American League Championship. I don't believe it! It just continues! My, oh my! Edgar Martinez with a double...they are going crazy at the Kingdome!"