The day was April 6, 1977. The Seattle Mariners were getting set to take on the California Angels at the Kingdome. Behind the mic was the great Dave Niehaus.
No one from that day, even himself he would later admit, had any idea that Niehaus would have been the voice of the Mariners for the next 33 years and turn into the legend that he was. His voice was infectious, and when you turned your radio dial to 710 AM or 1000 AM in Seattle, you knew exactly what was on the radio.
There weren’t many bright moments for the Mariners organization from their inception in 1977 until the mid 1990s, but one thing held constant, and that was Niehaus.
He grew up in southwest Indiana in Princeton and attended Indiana Unviersity where he graduated in 1957. Niehaus then began his broadcasting career on Armed Forces Radio before being paired with the great Dick Enberg to broadcast the LA Rams of the NFL along with UCLA football and basketball. Where he really made his mark, however, was in Seattle with the Mariners.
If it wasn’t for Danny Kaye, part-owner of the Mariners in 1977, who hired him, we would have never found the legend that was Dave Niehaus.
Many of Niehaus’ calls were memorable, but some of the most memorable ones were “The Bunt” by Carlos Guillen in 2000, “The Double” by Edgar Martinez, which arguably saved baseball in Seattle in 1995, and his call for all grand slams: “Get out the rye bread and mustard, grandma! It’s grand salami time!”
Those are all memorable calls, but the one call where he will be most remembered for was his famous call of “My oh my.”
Niehaus was Mariners baseball. He was such a big figure of the organization that when the Mariners opened up Safeco Field on July 15, 1999 he was the one to throw out the first pitch in their new ballpark. A year later, he was the second member inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.
The year 2008 might have been the crowning achievement of his career when he was given the Ford C. Frick award by the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the highest award given to baseball broadcasters and recognizes career excellence in baseball broadcasting. He joined so many of the greats in Cooperstown and he was in his rightful place among baseball immortality.
Today in Seattle, Niehaus is not forgotten. The street in front of Safeco Field is named Dave Niehaus Way S., there is a bronze statue of Niehaus at the stadium, and the broadcast center is also named after him.
On November 10, 2010, we lost a legend when Niehaus passed away because of a heart attack. It was the day the Mariners lost their voice and hearing Mariners games would never be the same following that day and with that, the Mariners lost arguably their most beloved figure.
There will never be an icon or a legend like Dave Niehaus again in Seattle. He was such an infectious figure that every time you heard his voice, you’d get a smile on your face.
He didn’t just mean a lot to the Mariners, he meant a lot to the fans, the city of Seattle and baseball as a whole. We lost a legend on that day, a legend that will never be replaced.