“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 TO THE PLATE WILL BE... LATE! THE MARINERS ARE GOING TO PLAY FOR THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP! I DON'T BELIEVE IT, IT JUST CONTINUES...MY OH MY!"
For long-time Seattle Mariners fans, that call during the 1995 ALDS to beat the Yankees still sends chills down their spines. It will always be connected to that year, that magical year in Seattle sports history.
On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Dave Niehaus had passed on after suffering a heart attack in his home in Bellevue, Wash. He was 75.
"All of baseball is terribly saddened tonight by the tragic news that Dave Niehaus, the voice of the Seattle Mariners, has passed away. He was one of the great broadcast voices of our generation, a true gentleman, and a credit to baseball,” said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.
"He was a good friend and I will miss him. But he will be sorely missed, not only in the Pacific Northwest, where he had called Mariners games since the club's inception in 1977, but wherever the game is played.
"Dave was a Hall of Famer in every way. On behalf of Baseball, I offer my condolences to his wife, Marilyn, his children and grandchildren, to the Seattle Mariners organization, and to his many fans."
Niehaus discovered his passion for sports broadcasting in college, when he called a basketball game between Indiana and Ohio State University.
After stints as a cook, page, and being drafted into the Army, Niehaus moved to Los Angeles to further his dream of broadcasting.
He called games for the L.A. Rams, USC Trojans, and UCLA Bruins, before doing play-by-play for the California Angels for seven years.
At 41, Niehaus won the lead announcer role for the upstart Seattle Mariners, beating out over 100 other applicants. Needless to say, he became an icon of baseball in the Pacific Northwest.
He was there, and made you feel as if you were there, through it all. From Randy Johnson’s no-hitter to the unveiling of Safeco Field; from the record-tying 116th win to Ichiro’s single-season hit record, Niehaus was there through the glory of Mariners baseball.
But perhaps more importantly, he was there through the years when the Mariners were a joke of a franchise, fielding MLB worst teams year in and year out. And yet, through the wholehearted and dramatic spin he put on every game he called, he made it all bearable for Mariners fans.
“Dave has been the father figure for the Mariner organization for many years,” said former Mariner Dan Wilson. “His voice and his stories have graced the transistor radios, living rooms, and kitchens of Mariner fans throughout the Pacific Northwest for several decades.
"A true professional in every sense of the word, Dave brought us all to the heights with his 'Grand Salamis' and 'My Oh Mys' and always made us proud to be Mariner fans and players. His love for the game of baseball was unsurpassed and that shone through every time he got behind the microphone."
Niehaus won the Ford C. Frick Award and was honored as a Hall of Fame broadcaster in 2008, but he would tell you that his proudest moments were when he connected to his fellow fans and players.
Listening to local radio, the fans whose lives Niehaus touched could be heard all day and night, each with their unique story of the personal experiences they had with him. Former Mariners poured in with their own touching tributes, many of whom referred to Dave as their own grandfather figure.
“ [Losing Niehaus is] tough because he's like that grandfather to all of us especially Jay, me, Edgar and Dan and so many other Mariners, he was like our grandfather,” said former Mariner great Ken Griffey, Jr.
“He would give you a little bit of advice, and he was tough on you when he needed to be. This is a day that I was hoping would never come. It's just a sad day for all of us, not just his family, but for everybody in the great Northwest.”
How much Dave Niehaus meant to the Pacific Northwest, and to baseball, can never be quantified. Niehaus truly transcended the game that he loved so much, and will always be remembered for it. But he was always quick to let you know how lucky he was to be broadcasting Mariners games.
"I love the game and the fans," he said. "If I wasn't out here doing the games broadcasting, I'd be out here sitting in the stands. I've said this a million times, but I've never had to go to work a day in my life."
That voice that inaugurated the ’77 Mariners when Diego Segui threw the first pitch in M’s history; that voice that graced more than 5,000 Mariners games; that voice that pervaded through 33 years of Seattle baseball, and made the lean years endurable; that voice that will never announce another game or be replaced, but will forever be ingrained in our hearts.
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