Dave Niehaus dies, voice of the Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, who became the living embodiment of the franchise in his 34 years behind the microphone, has died. Niehaus passed away after suffering a heart attack at his Bellevue home on Wednesday, according to his family. He was 75 years old.
Famous for his colorful and deft storytelling skills, Niehaus brought Mariner games to life with his passion for the game trademark phrases, "My oh My" and "Get out the rye bread and the mustard, Grandma, it's grand salami time!"
He was there for the first pitch of the new franchise in 1977, and through this year remained a staple of both radio and television broadcasts of Mariner games. Niehaus received the Ford Frick Award in 2008, a top broadcasting honor, presented at Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Mariner CEO Chuck Armstrong spoke for the franchise in a statement released late last night:
"He was the fans' choice to throw out the first pitch in Safeco Field history, and no one has had a greater impact on our team's connection to fans throughout the Northwest. One of the best days we've ever spent was in Cooperstown in 2008, as Dave took his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame."
The news came as a shock to team colleagues, and players past and present. Mariner chairman Howard Lincoln says news of Niehaus' death "is devastating."
Former player Jay Buhner, who later joined Niehaus in the broadcast booth, told The Seattle Times, "This is the saddest day of my life. It is like I am losing a Dad, someone that was a father figure to me." Niehaus' longtime broadcast colleague Rick Rizzs also told the Times:, "He was not only the voice of the Mariners, he was the Mariners," Rizzs said.
Future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr, told 710 ESPN:
"Everybody talks about the players who went there and the players who left, but he made the Mariners who they are. Without him, the guys out there are nothing. Day in and day out, he brought the excitement and drove thousands and millions of people to the ballpark to come watch us."
Niehaus leaves behind his wife, Marilyn, children Andy, Matt and Greta, and grandchildren.
There's a Dave Niehaus Memorial page on Facebook. Thousands of fans have posted messages there. What are your memories of the famed Mariner broadcaster?
Dave Niehaus: In His Own Words
At the time of his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, KCTS 9 Conversation host Enrique Cerna spoke with Niehaus about his career, and how he first found his way into a baseball broadcast booth.