Dave Niehaus, the longtime voice of the Seattle Mariners from their inception in 1977 through the final game of the 2010 season, died Wednesday, the ballclub confirmed to the Seattle Times today. Niehaus was 75.
According to the Seattle Times, the cause of death was not yet known.
UPDATE: Greg Johns of MLB.com is reporting:
Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus died Wednesday of a heart attack at his home in Bellevue, Wash., according to a spokesman for the team.
(Editor’s Note: NorthWest Cable News will present a special report on the passing of Dave Niehaus tonight at 9:30 p.m. PST. Watch live on NorthWest Cable News, KING5.com and NWCN.com.)
Dave Niehaus had been the lead play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Mariners since their inaugural season in 1977. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, the highest honor for American baseball broadcasters.
Known for his exclamation of “My oh my!” and his home run call of “It will fly away!,” Neihaus was the most popular and best-known sportscaster among Seattle sports fans. Twice named Washington Sportscaster of the Year, he was selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the opening of Safeco Field, on July 15, 1999. In 2000, he was the second figure to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.
Get out the rye bread…[audio:https://tech.blorge.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Niehaus-Grand-Salami.mp3|titles=Niehaus-Grand Salami]
Reactions from others:
Jeff Sullivan on Lookout Landing: “As hard as this is, I don’t know that it’s really going to sink in until next March. Or maybe not even until next April or May. Until the Mariners get going in their first season ever without Dave Niehaus in the booth. That’s going to be rough. That’s when it’s really going to feel like something’s missing, and that’s when we’ll understand that nobody – not then, not ever – will replace Dave Niehaus. Someone will take his title, and someone will take his chair, but no one will take his place in our hearts, and I pity the poor son of a bitch who has to try to follow Dave’s act with his own.”
Dave on U.S.S. Mariner: “I can still hear Dave describing a spring training game in which Bip Roberts got a couple of hits. Even though he was on a Padres team that the Mariners never played, that memory never fades because of the man who called it. He was a great storyteller, and he made baseball magical for myself and millions of other children who grew up with his voice.”
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement “All of Baseball is terribly saddened tonight by the tragic news that Dave Niehaus, the voice of the Seattle Mariners, has passed away. He was one of the great broadcast voices of our generation, a true gentleman, and a credit to baseball.”
Geoff Baker, Seattle Times Mariners reporter, wrote: “Obviously, for so many fans in this area and now scattered across the country, Niehaus was the voice who introduced them to Major League Baseball. He was the voice of summer for legions of Mariners devotees. It was a voice that literally melted the winter snow away and came to represent the annual hope that each new season brings.”
Jay Buhner just put out a statement: “Words can’t describe what I am feeling right now. 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 was the voice of Northwest Baseball and the heart of the Mariners organization. He described everything with an art and painted a picture you could see in your mind. I’ve had the honor of working with him as a player and also in the broadcast booth, and there was no one better. He was a consummate pro at everything he did. I am going to miss everything about the guy – going to miss his face, his ugly white shoes and his awful sport coats. He was one-of-a-kind.”
John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune wrote: “My favorite Dave Niehaus call? It would have to be the Jay Buhner home run, in the top of the 12th inning, that enabled the Seattle Mariners to beat the Angels at Anaheim on Aug. 4, 1991….Since discovering him from that home run call 17 years ago, Niehaus not only has told me where he is, but what it looks like, sounds like, even smells like. He’s made my days, and enriched my nights.”
Rick Rizz, Dave’s longtime broadcasting partner, told MLB.com: “I lost, you lost, we all lost something,” Rizzs told MLB.com. “He’s the best friend I ever had with the Mariners. Just a great storyteller who made Mariners baseball during the lean years fun to listen to. He was always there, always there, for the great moment. That was the beauty of Dave. He didn’t miss the great moments.”
Chuck Armstrong: “Dave has truly been the heart and soul of this franchise since its inception in 1977. Since calling Diego Segui’s first-pitch strike on Opening Night in the Kingdome some 34 years ago, Dave’s voice has been the constant with the franchise. He truly was the fans connection to every game; to wins and losses; to great plays and heartbreaking defeats; to Hall of Famers and journeymen.”
Ken Griffey, JR told Shannon Drayer tonight: “He made the Mariners what they are. Day in and day out he brought the excitement.”
Jerry Brewer in the Seattle Times: “If the Mariners were a storied ballclub with multiple championships, Dave Niehaus would still be the jewel of the franchise. In fact, if you put more team success with his voice and his storytelling and his enthusiastic style, Niehaus’ legend would’ve grown larger than it already is.”
The official Niehaus bio on mlb.com includes some audio and video highlights of his career.
The Most Famous Call in Mariners History
Conversations at KCTS 9: Dave Niehaus