As a college kid I once drove to Southern California with my soccer team buddies.
We had a very difficult and grueling two-week season-opening training camp to prepare for, so we decided to pack all five of us into my small Toyota Corolla, and we headed down to Santa Cruz to prepare.
Five guys with five soccer balls across the back window as we drove.
Two weeks later, anxious and homesick, we drove all night. And I’ll never forget that last corner driving north on the I-5 freeway by Boeing field. When you make that turn and first see the tall buildings of downtown Seattle with the Olympics in the background, the exuberance never fails! You know you are finally home.
The soothing tones of Dave Niehaus had that same kind of magic.
When you heard him weaving words together like an artist, transforming an average baseball game into a majestic masterpiece, you knew you were home.
His voice was like no other, describing baseball for the Seattle Mariners like nobody else can, or ever will again.
He was our friend. He felt like our father. Our childhood pal who we stole away with, late at night when our moms thought we were sleeping.
His was the voice heard while painting a deck, or floating on a boat during a warm summer night on Lake Washington.
He made the woeful Seattle Mariners more than just a baseball team. He made them feel like family.
And he was there, each summer, each game. Always there.
We all knew the news of this past Wednesday was coming. After all, he was 75 years old. But like any beloved family member, none of us were ready for him to be gone and we certainly were not ready when he left.
The most talented and unique personality in Seattle sports history has passed, leaving a hole in the hearts of so many.
There really is nothing else to say that hasn’t already been mentioned. So rather than try, let’s have Dave himself do what he did for so many years.
This is not a clip of a famous play. This is just an average game on an average summer night, recorded during a meaningless extra-inning game almost two decades ago.
Dave Neihaus's brilliance was in how he made the routine special.
Over the past four decades every one of us heard hundreds of games just like this one. While approaching Seattle in the car, or from far-off corners of the state, Niehaus brought the game to life with enthusiasm and clarity. As if every inning was the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game in the World Series.
Thus the best call ever made by Dave Niehaus, was the one he made every single day during four decades of baseball.
(If for any reason the embedded clip fails to show, you can still find the video here.)