Dave Niehaus

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Dave Niehaus
Dave Niehaus 1.jpg
Niehaus in July 2007
Born David Arnold Niehaus
(1935-02-19)February 19, 1935
Princeton, Indiana, United States
Died November 10, 2010(2010-11-10) (aged 75)
Issaquah, Washington, U.S.
Sports commentary career
Team(s) Seattle Mariners (1977–2010)
California Angels (1969–1976)
Sports Baseball, basketball, football

David Arnold "Dave" Niehaus (February 19, 1935 – November 10, 2010) was an American sportscaster. He was the lead play-by-play announcer for the American League's Seattle Mariners from their inaugural season in 1977 until his death after the 2010 season. In 2008, the National Baseball Hall of Fame awarded Niehaus with the Ford C. Frick Award, the highest honor for American baseball broadcasters. Among fans nationwide and his peers, Niehaus was considered to be one of the finest sportscasters in history.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life and career[edit]

Niehaus 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. Niehaus also broadcast the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL and UCLA Bruins football and basketball during this period.

Seattle Mariners[edit]

In 1977, Danny Kaye, part-owner of the expansion Seattle Mariners, recruited Niehaus to become the franchise's radio voice. Despite working for a franchise who from its first year in 1977 until 1991 was without a winning season, his talent was recognizable, and Niehaus was considered one of the few attractions for Mariner fans.[2] 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.[citation needed]

Niehaus became 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.[3] In 1999, for Nintendo 64, Niehaus was added to Ken Griffey, Jr.'s Slugfest as an announcer during gameplay. In 2000, he was the second figure to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.[3] 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.[3]

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.[3] May 7, 2009, was Niehaus' 5,000th game as a Mariner broadcaster. Niehaus broadcast 5,284 of the 5,385 Mariners games, and intended to broadcast the complete 2011 season.[4]

Notable catchphrases[edit]

Niehaus is noted for using the following catchphrases on Mariner broadcasts:

  • "My, oh my!" - a variant of former Angels partner Enberg's "Oh, my!", used for big, exciting plays.
  • "Swung on and belted!" - used on long fly balls that may go over the wall for a home run.[5]
  • "It will fly away!"' (sometimes "Fly, fly away!") - used for home runs.[5]
  • "Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma, it is grand salami time!" - used for a grand slam home run by a Mariners player.[5]
  • "The Mariners have erupted!" - used during scoring outbursts

Notable nicknames[edit]

Notable calls[edit]

The winning call of the 1995 American League Division Series as called by Dave Niehaus, one of his most famous calls.

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Now the left hander ready, branding iron hot, the 1-2 pitch...."K" inserted! It's over! Right over the heart of the plate! Randy looks to the skies that is covered by the dome and bedlam! As the Mariners now erupt! 19 long years of frustration is over!

—Calling the final out against the California Angels in the one-game AL West playoff in 1995.

Right now, the Mariners looking for the tie. They would take a fly ball, they would love a base hit into the gap and they could win it with Junior's speed. The stretch... and the 0-1 pitch on the way to Edgar Martínez, swung on and LINED DOWN THE LEFT FIELD LINE FOR A BASE HIT! HERE COMES JOEY, HERE IS JUNIOR TO THIRD BASE, THEY'RE GOING TO WAVE HIM IN! THE THROW TO THE PLATE WILL BE ... LATE! THE MARINERS ARE GOING TO PLAY FOR THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! IT JUST CONTINUES! MY, OH MY!

Calling "The Double", hit by Edgar Martínez, which scored Joey Cora and Ken Griffey, Jr. to win the 1995 American League Division Series in the 5th and final game.

Death[edit]

Niehaus suffered a myocardial infarction (heart attack) at his Bellevue, Washington home on November 10, 2010, and died at age 75 while preparing to barbecue some ribs on his deck.[9] Heart problems had forced Niehaus to undergo two angioplasties in 1996, causing him to give up smoking and change his diet.[1] He is survived by his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren. In a formal statement, Mariners Chairman Howard Lincoln and President Chuck Armstrong said "Dave has truly been the heart and soul of this franchise since its inception in 1977... He truly was the fans' connection to every game."[10] Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said "Today the Pacific Northwest lost one of its sports icons...Dave was an institution here starting with the team's first pitch in 1977. With all due respect to the great Alvin Davis, Dave is 'Mr. Mariner.'" At news of Niehaus's death, tributes came from Jay Buhner, Ken Griffey, Jr., Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, other Mariners broadcasters, and fans.[4]

Prior to the Mariners' home opener in 2011 against the Cleveland Indians the city of Seattle and King County declared that April 8 be "My oh My! Dave Niehaus Day." A successful petition drive by fans Glen Garnett and Mark Caylor got the city of Seattle to give the block of First Avenue S. between Edgar Martínez Dr. S. and S. Royal Brougham Way, the honorary designation of Dave Niehaus Way S. A sign located in the press area giving tribute to Niehaus was unveiled as well.

Enshrined in Bronze at Safeco Field and Legacy[edit]

A bronze statue of Niehaus [11] was unveiled on Friday September 16, 2011 at Safeco Field. Niehaus 's longtime broadcast partner Rick Rizzs presided over a private ceremony to unveil the statue.

The statue depicts Niehaus at a desk, behind a microphone, wearing headphones with his Mariners scorebook in front of him. Niehaus is wearing a favorite necktie with tiny baseballs on it and a sport coat. He's holding a pencil in his right hand and wearing the 2001 All-Star Game ring on his left. The scorebook in front of him is open to the 1995 American League Division Series game against the New York Yankees. The pages are engraved with Niehaus's actual notes and scoring of the game. The scorebook is so detailed, you even see the word "Unbelievable" scribbled—and misspelled—at the top in Niehaus's handwriting. One person in attendance said Niehaus often misspelled the word because he was writing so fast. "That's unreal", said former Mariner Jay Buhner as he looked at the artistry. That game was won when Edgar Martínez hit a double down the left field line and Ken Griffey, Jr. slid into home.

Artist Lou Cella looked at dozens of photos before creating the piece, which was first sculpted in clay, then cast in bronze. There is an empty seat next to the statue, so fans can sit next to Niehaus and pose for photos.

The statue is located on the Main Concourse near Section 105 in right centerfield.

As a tribute to the voice of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle MC Macklemore, released a song called "My Oh My" on December 22, 2010. It describes Niehaus's influence on not only Macklemore's childhood, but also on any and all from Seattle. It also features the audio clip from the winning call of the 1995 American League Division Series.[12][13] When it was debuted by a radio host, he received calls as soon as it was over from Mariners fans who had pulled over on the highway in tears from the lyrical work and memory of Niehaus. Macklemore performed the song for Opening Day 2011 at Safeco Field during the team's tribute to the late broadcaster.

References[edit]

  • Smith, Curt. Voices of Summer: Ranking Baseball's 101 All-time Best Announcers. New York: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1446-8.

External links[edit]