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The ‘heart and soul’ of the Mariners signs off

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Nov. 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm with No Comments »
November 11, 2010 4:37 pm
Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus reacts to the applause of the pregame crowd at Safeco Field in 2000 as he is inducted into the team's Hall of Fame. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

For Seattle Mariners fans, the sweetest sound on a summer day was hearing Dave Niehaus’ “My, oh my!” on the car radio. It almost surely signaled a hard-hit baseball soaring over an outfield fence.

That familiar voice was stilled Wednesday when the Northwest baseball icon died at age 75.

For longtime fans, Niehaus was the voice of the Mariners, broadcasting since they began playing at the Kingdome 34 seasons ago. Big names came and went on the field, but Niehaus was the constant, the touchstone for fans. He truly was, as team president Chuck Armstrong said, “the heart and soul” of the franchise.

When fans think of the team’s greatest moments, their thoughts inevitably are narrated by Niehaus. Who can forget the excitement in his voice in 1995 when Edgar Martinez doubled in Ken Griffey Jr. to win the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees? Or hearing him order up some mustard and rye bread to go with a “grand salami” home run?

Even during the team’s toughest times, when it lingered solidly in the basement, Niehaus was able to find something positive to say, something to give fans hope of a brighter future.

He wasn’t just a fan favorite; Niehaus also was a beloved figure to the players. They recognized his tremendous love for the game and for those who played it – even when they faltered. Baseball took notice, too, inducting him into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Mariners fans were spoiled by having Niehaus to listen to. Summers in the Northwest just won’t seem the same without him.

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