Remembering A Legend

We were all shocked to hear about the passing of Dave Niehaus on Wednesday evening. I was absolutely stunned, and had that empty feeling in the gut – you know, that hollow feeling that you never want.

The outstanding coverage  by Matt Pitman and Shannon Drayer on ESPN 710 AM assisted with the healing, and got me remembering the first time I really met Dave.

It was 2003 or 2004 – I think, I probably have the year wrong. I had met Dave before, but only in passing – we hadn’t really talked. But on this date, it was Dave Niehaus Night at Cheney Stadium. He was obligated to do a promotional appearance on behalf of Budweiser, and the company elected to do it at a packed Rainiers game.

The Mariners had played a day game, and of course we were playing at night.

Before the game, Dave was introduced by our PA announcer to thunderous applause, and he waved to the Tacoma crowd and threw out the first pitch. Then, he came up to the booth on the roof to do an inning on the radio with me.

Now, this wasn’t Dave and Mike, calling the Rainiers game – this was me interviewing Dave, between pitches during the first inning. I was pretty nervous about it, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go - I wasn’t interviewing some ballplayer; instead I was interviewing one of the legends in my own profession, a person I really looked up to.

The Mariners had gotten creamed in their game earlier in the day – for some reason 9-2 sticks in my memory as the final score  – and, well… here’s how it went:

Mike: “And joining me in the booth today, the Voice of the Seattle Mariners, Dave Niehaus. Dave, it’s an honor to have you here, but what are you doing here tonight? You already called nine innings today!”

Dave: “And nine miserable innings they were, Mike.”

And we were off and running – he put me at ease, just like that. It was fun – I asked him about his background, what he likes about the job, etc. He gave the listeners a peek into what his working life was like, which was a real treat.

This year, when the Rainiers played PCL playoff games at Safeco Field, I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to broadcast the games from Dave’s booth. Dave worked every home game surrounded by pictures of his friends and family – the photos cover every square inch of wall space.

Condolences to everyone in the Niehaus family, and the Mariners family. Dave Niehaus was one of the greatest broadcasters in the history of the sport, and he is a true Hall of Famer.

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5 Responses to Remembering A Legend

  1. Steve says:

    How many of us, so often, turned off the TV sound and turned on the radio instead to hear Dave call the game? It was all too often the only way to enjoy a Mariners game.

    I’ve listened to Dave since 1980. In my car on the way home from work. At home while working in the yard on the weekends. He always made the game fun to listen to. I will miss him. I’m just so sorry that he never had the chance to call the M’s winning it all.

    “Swung on AND BELTED!!!….FLY, FLY AWAY!”

  2. Justin says:

    This was truly a deep and painful loss for Mariners fans everywhere – a loss of an icon and of a family member. I will forever remember Dave’s wonderful cadence, the emotions and feelings he could convey, and the tales he would weave – truly a master storyteller.

    Certainly, a tragedy like this helps put things into perspective and makes you realize to never take things for granted. With that in mind, I’d also like to thank and praise you, Mike, for all of the excellent work you’ve done here on this blog and with the Rainiers down in Tacoma. I enjoy listening to your broadcasts the same way I did with Dave’s, and I sincerely hope that the door opens for you one day to bring your talents to the big leagues, hopefully with the Mariners.

  3. stan says:

    When I moved back to the Northwest in 1979 the first thing I noticed was how bad the major league team was and how good the broadcasters were. Dave and Ken Wilson were terrific. I really liked the broadcasting team of Dave and Ken Levine too. Through all the bad years and the too few good ones, Dave Niehaus was an absolute joy to listen to on the radio. RIP

  4. Michael says:

    Steven Shell who pitch for Tacoma in 2009 & 2010 season has signed a minor league contract with Kanasas City Royals…

  5. [...] Personally I have only one Dave story and I posted it here. [...]

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