Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus dies at 75
- "From now on, there will be just two eras of Mariner baseball," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said, "the Dave Niehaus era and everything else."
Wednesday night, a photo of Niehaus could be seen on the big screen from outside an empty Safeco Field. It read, "Dave Niehaus, 1935-2010." His empty chair and headpones sat in the broadcast booth overlooking a silent Safeco Field.
- "Words can't describe what I am feeling right now," Mariners legend Jay Buhner said, echoing statement by top Mariners officials. "This is the saddest day of my life. It is like I am losing a Dad, someone that was a father-figure to me."
He broadcast Opening Day, Gaylord Perry's historic 300th win in 1982, and said Phil Bradley's game winning grand slam in 1984 was one of his favorite calls.
- Niehaus was behind the mic when Randy Johnson struck out Mike Heath, completing the first no-hitter in club history and was as memorable in calling Chris Bosio's no-hitter as Omar Visquel was saving it with the barehanded throw to first base for the final out.
But it was his call of The Double -- the city's most memorable baseball moment -- that thousands of Seattleites can still recall.
"As soon as I saw that ball off Edgar's bat headed into the outfield, I just took off my headphones and stood up," Rick Rizzs, Niehaus' partner in the booth that day, once recalled.
- "It was Dave's moment."
Niehaus grew up the only child of a banker. His dad wanted him to become a dentist, but the former high school pitcher enrolled in broadcasting classes at Indiana. He made his debut calling an Indiana-Ohio State basketball game.
- "I don't remember too much about the game, except I was scared to death," the 1957 Indiana University graduate once recalled.
Working as a short-order cook at Mount Rushmore National Park, a couple vacationing there encouraged him to follow his dreams in California after he graduated from college.
- He did and landed a job at NBC as a page, working shows for Bob Hope, Dinah Shore and the quiz show, "Truth or Consequences."
Niehaus, who at the time was roommates at Jim Nabors of "Gomer Pyle" fame, quit his job when he was drafted into the Army and after basic training got a job broadcast sports for the Armed Forces.
After the military, Niehaus was hired by KMPC in Los Angeles working as a weekend sports reporter before getting a job broadcasting L.A. Rams football games in 1966.
He also broadcast UCLA and USC sports while living in Los Angeles and with Ken Wilson, his early partner on Mariners broadcasts, broadcast Pacific Coast League games in Hawaii from 1970 to 1972. He also did play-by-play for the California Angels from 1969-76....
Niehaus was introduced as the Mariners announcer on Dec. 18, 1976. Then 41, he beat out Bob Robertson and Bill Schonely, who were among the roughly 100 applicants for job broadcasting games on KVI radio and some games on KING/5....
- The night of the first Mariners broadcast, visiting Angels owner Gene Autry had a shot of vodka in the broadcast booth and tapped Niehaus' shoulder.
"David," he said, "I should never have let your ass go."
In 1985, Niehaus was ranked by Sports Magazine as No. 4 among baseball's most accomplished announcers. That was an honor for the man who was raised faithfully listened to Harry Caray call balls and strikes for the St. Louis Cardinals, the nearest baseball team in his Indiana hometown.
He gave his signature phrase, "My, Oh, My!" during the inaugural season, getting the inspiration from fellow Angels broadcaster Dick Enberg, who used the phrase "Oh, My!" He derived his "Fly away!" line from a rock song he heard driving at Mariners spring training.
- Niehaus had a hand in hiring Rick Rizzs and Kevin Cremin in 1982 -- both who were with him for much of his remaining career.
Some were worried about the health of Niehaus after he was diagnosed in the mid 1980s with diabetes and high blood pressure. He was a smoker until 1996 when he had two angioplasties.
But Niehaus rarely missed a game."...
- SeattlePI, "Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus dies at 75" photo above 1985 seattle pi