Growing up, the Atlanta Braves were my team. The Jones’ boys, Chipper and Andruw, were my favorite players. Why the Braves growing up in Grants Pass, Oregon? My grandmother was an admirer of the now-retired Bobby Cox, the Braves games were shown conveniently on TBS and I happened to visit routinely (and intentionally) at game-time. She would be there knitting, listening to Skip Caray and Joe Simpson call the game while I, from the years 1990-2003, plopped in front of the television and watched in awe. This was baseball. This was growing up on the game.

But, living in the northwest, the Seattle Mariners rightfully caught my attention. I watched the Braves intently, and they were always my favorite team during my youth, but the Mariners were up near the top of my list. Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Dan Wilson, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez and others joined alongside the Jones’ boys. It wasn’t just the play on the field that made the game exciting; it was the way it was called, too. And just as Caray and Simpson added to the experience as the Braves announcers, Dave Niehaus did the same for the Mariners.

Neihaus, who passed away today at the age of 75, brought an uncanny amount of excitement to the booth since the franchise’s inception more than 30 years ago. When the Mariners were awful he made games worth watching. Some broadcasters do that. I would watch the sloppiest Dodgers game just to listen to Vin Scully tell stories. Niehaus was like that for many. An 11-6 loss was a loss, but there was two and a half hours of Niehaus. That was the consolation prize to many who appreciated his enthusiasm.

Some announcers profess excitement when necessary. They scream jubilantly when a big play is made by their team. But, a fan could really tell how much Niehaus cared. Not just the person behind the mic but the person outside the booth. It wasn’t a job for Niehaus, nor was he putting on a mask for viewers. It was a way of life, a passion. And he enjoyed every diving stop by Rodriguez, every game-winning gapper by Martinez, every diving catch and every moonshot by Junior and every strikeout by The Big Unit to the fullest. It didn’t matter if it was April or October.

I didn’t watch Seattle very often, but hearing him exclaim “Fly, fly away!”and “My oh my!” after a player tied into one, I could see why so many in the Seattle area, people who were far bigger fans than I was, appreciated him. And why his passing is such a devastating loss. He will be missed not only by me, current and former Mariners who had a chance to get to know him, and thousands upon thousands of fans, but by the game of baseball itself.


Reaction to His Shocking Passing

Buhner, from an article by the Seattle Times Larry Stone: “In the late ’80s, early ’90s—some of my teams—there wasn’t much of a product on the field but people tuned in to hear Dave. He’d rant and rave off the air, then ‘bam’ be back on the air and be totally at peace calling the game. The booth was his home, and he made you feel every pitch, every play. He could call a sunset. It’s a sad day for all of us.”

Howard Lincoln, the Mariners CEO, and Chuck Armstrong, Mariners president, in a release from the team as documented in Stone’s piece: “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.

“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. He was the voice of spring and summer in the Northwest.”

Rick Rizzs, his longtime partner in the booth, was stunned by the news: “I feel numb. He meant everything to Mariner baseball. Everything. He was not only the voice of the Mariners, he WAS the Mariners. He was the face of the franchise. When you turned on the radio, everything was right with the world when you heard Dave’s voice.”

Griffey: “He’s one of the greatest men I’ve ever met and had the privilege of knowing.… He is Mariners baseball. Everyone talks about all the players; we can’t hold a candle to that man.”


Read more MLB news on