Dave Niehaus, the voice of the Seattle Mariners from their first pitch in 1977 to their last in 2010, died today of an apparent heart attack at his home.
A Hall of Fame broadcaster, who turned 75 last spring, Niehaus was better known – and more popular – than many of the players on Seattle’s expansion team. He could be delighted or disgusted by what he saw on the field, but always loved the game.
“I just drove home from the grocery store and someone called to tell me the news and I almost threw up,” said Jay Buhner, the long-time Mariner outfielder. “I haven’t cried since my mom died last year. This hurts. I lost a family member today. We all did.”
“This is truly devastating news,” said Howard Lincoln, the Mariners CEO.
“Dave has truly been the heart and soul of this franchise since its inception in 1977.” team president Chuck Armstrong said. “Since calling Diego Segui’s first pitch strike on Opening Night in the Kingdome some 34 years ago, Dave’s voice has been the constant with the franchise. He truly was the fans connection to every game”
Niehaus received the Ford Frick Award in 2008, resulting in his reaching a cherished goal – the Hall of Fame. His often heard ‘My, oh my!’ became a signature call, and his broadcast of the ’95 post-season captured the imaginations of fans listening to a rag-tag group of Mariners beating the New York Yankees in the Kingdome.
When Edgar Martinez doubled Ken Griffey Jr. home in that American League Division Series, this was Dave’s call:
It sounds even better, and if you want hear it again, click HERE
Heart problems in 1998 gave Niehaus and his fans a serious scare, and he gave up smoking and drinking, and colleagues worried about him in recent years - but stepping away from the microphone was an impossibility for him.
His home run calls – ‘It will fly, fly away’ – always changed when he was describing a grand slam: “Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma, it is grand salami time!”
Buhner spoke for many in the Northwest: “In the late ’80s, early’ 90s – some of my teams – there wasn’t much of a product on the field but people tuned in to hear Dave. He’d rant and rave off the air, then ‘bam be’ back on the air and be totally at peace calling the game. The booth was his home, and he made you feel every pitch, every play. He could call a sunset. It’s a sad day for all of us.”
Niehaus is survived by his wife, Marilyn, their three children and six grandchildren.