The voice of the Seattle Mariners has passed away at the age of 75. Dave Niehaus is known by almost everyone in the Pacific Northwest. Dave was born on February 19, 1935 in Princeton, Indiana. Dave graduated from Indiana University in 1957, entered the military, and began his broadcasting career with Armed Forces Radio. He became a partner of Dick Enberg on the broadcast team of the California Angels in 1969 until the end of the 1976 season. Dave even called what would be Hank Aaron's last home on July 20, 1976 against Dick Drago of the Angels. Dave also broadcast the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL and UCLA Bruins football and basketball from 1973 until 1976.
In 1977, Danny Kaye, part-owner of the expansion Seattle Mariners, recruited Niehaus to become the franchise's radio voice. As of the end of the 2007 season, Niehaus had called 4,817 of the 4,899 games the Mariners had played since their inception. Heart problems forced Niehaus to undergo two angioplasties in 1996, causing him to give up smoking and change his diet. Despite working for the Mariners who didn't have a winning season until 1991 his talent was recognizable, and Niehaus was considered one of the few attractions for Mariner fans. Even in the period before the team's memorable 1995 season, the Mariners were regularly one of the leading major-league teams in terms of the percentage of radios in use.
Dave was immensely popular in Seattle, twice being named Washington Sportscaster of the Year. The team chose him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the opening of its new ballpark, Safeco Field, on July 15, 1999. In 2000, he was the second figure to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame along with Mr. Mariner Alvin Davis. In 2008, Niehaus was named the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award, which recognizes career excellence in baseball broadcasting and is considered the highest baseball broadcasting honor. On May 7, 2009 Dave broadcasted his 5,000th game with the Mariners. Some of Dave's most memorable catch phrase was "My Oh My" for any great play. One of his signature home run calls was "Swung on and belted", and "fly, fly away". His call for a grand slam was, "get the rye bread and mustard Grandma, it is grand salami time". He was the one that gave Alex Rodriguez the name A-Rod, Franklin Gutierrez was "death to flying things", Randy Johnson was The Big Unit, Ken Griffey Jr. was The Kid, Omar Vizquel was Little O, Julio Cruz was the Cruzer, and Lou Piniella was Sweet Lou. Some of the more well known broadcasters to work with Dave were Joe Simpson of TBS and Braves fame, TBS announcer Chip Caray, former major leaguer Ron Fairly, and his partner since 1983 minus a couple years in Detroit, Rick Rizzs. Dave is one of the few broadcasters I know of to throw out the first pitch at a new stadium, and have his own bobble head.
There is no words for the emptiness and sadness we in Seattle will now and forever feel without Dave Neihaus. There will never be a more recognizable and friendly voice on your TV or radio. While Dave's ship may have now sailed, he will live on in our hearts forever! MY OH MY!!