With baseball announcers getting old in recent years, it shouldn’t be surprising to see them dead. Baseball lost Bob Murphy, Harry Kalas, Herb Carneal and Ernie Harwell to death.

Yesterday, the sport lost another one. Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus passed away yesterday afternoon. No one knew how he died.

This loss is not only devastating to the Mariners and the state of Washington, but baseball is going to feel the loss of this announcer. This death was like losing a best friend or a good confidante. Niehaus proved to be an influence to a good fanbase.

It’s not going to be same listening to Mariners baseball on the radio or television next year without Niehaus. That’s just the way it is. Rick Rizzs and Dave Sims can call a great game, but it’s won’t replace the enthusiasm Niehaus displayed.

Whenever this baseball fan took in a Mariners game on the Internet via MLB.TV, he enjoyed the voice of Niehaus late at night. There was nothing soothing than hearing the Mariners announcer on his way to bed.

He called a great game every night. Unlike most sports announcers today, he did not need to draw attention to himself. He let the game do the talking, and he painted the picture well in describing what was going on.

He made his colleagues better when he was working with them. He had a great chemistry with Rick Rizzs, Ron Fairly and Dave Blowers. That’s hard to do when one realizes the lousy personality Rizzs, Fairly and Blowers had.

He had his catchphrases, but it was infectious. Whenever he said “Fly Away” or “My Oh My,” he said it from the heart. He was like a fan that enjoyed what was going on.

Rarely folks see opposing team’s announcer praise the other team, but that was not the case with Niehaus. He talked up about the other teams all the time, and he raved about the talent of the other player.

He wasn’t a cookie-cutter announcer. He spoke with emotion. He drew people to watch Mariners baseball. During seasons when the Mariners stunk, he was the only reason to watch baseball.

He had a way with people. He wasn’t aloof. He wanted to get to know others as people, and he took the time to talk to others.

That attitude is missing with people nowadays.  If people can learn something from Niehaus, it’s having an infectious personality. That personality can rub people off well.  It certainly did for this writer.

Here’s what stood out about Niehaus as an announcer. Even in his 70s, he was effective at what he did. That’s impressive when one realizes it’s hard to be at the top of their game when they get older.

Niehaus’ work and personality made him an icon in the Pacific Northwest. It also made him a Hall of Famer in Cooperstown.

Talk about all the great Mariners players the franchise had, but Niehaus was the franchise. Players come and go, but not this announcer. He was there from the day the franchise as born, and he never left his job. He earned that status.

It would have been nice if he saw the Mariners win a championship or go to the World Series. The Mariners had their chances in 1995, 2000 and 2001, but they didn’t get it done in the American League Championship Series.

Still, this does not taint the career he had. He saw the team grow up from their expansion year in 1977. He called many playoff games for their franchise. He received an opportunity to cover Ichiro, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez.

He was in the Mariners Hall of Fame. He won awards as a sportscaster in Washington.  He threw the first pitch in the opening of Safeco Field in 1999.

Anyone would be willing to trade places with him in a heartbeat. In fact, Niehaus would tell people this is the best job he ever had in doing play-by-play.

He had fun in doing his job. Imagine that. Rarely, folks talk about the time they have at their job. To them, it’s just them trying to get by and pay bills.

Anytime someone has fun doing their job, it makes their job easy. The passion and the knowledge come automatically when someone enjoys their job.

There won’t be an announcer like him. Times changed. Most young announcers are thought to be bland instead of showing emotion. Often times, baseball telecasts are known to be public relations of that particular team. That’s not how it should be.

Most announcers are better off paying attention to how Niehaus did his job. Of course, it’s easier said than done. The personality has to come through for that to happen, and sadly, that doesn’t happen anymore.

Vin Scully is the last breed of fine announcers, and who knows how long he will live? Baseball fans should appreciate him more than ever.

Watching the Mariners games this year will not be the same. Every time this viewer watches a Mariner game, his mind is going to focus on Niehaus. The memories of that fine man will creep into his mind. It’s a good bet Seattlites will have that same feeling.

Niehaus lived a good life, and now he’s in a better place. For the rest of us, we are in mourning of a fine person and a fine announcer.

It’s just another day where another great announcer dies.

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