Dave Niehaus, voice of Seattle Mariners for 34 years, dies

November 11, 2010

By Contributor

NEW — 11:10 a.m. Nov. 11, 2010

Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus, the voice of Seattle Mariners’ baseball for 34 years, died Nov. 10 of a heart attack in his home in Bellevue. He was 75.

Issaquah resident Rick Rizzs, a longtime partner in the broadcast booth with Niehaus, was stunned with the news of Niehaus’ passing.

“What a loss,” Rizzs said. “Holy cow. 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.”

“This is truly devastating news,” Howard Lincoln, the Mariners chairman and CEO, and team President Chuck Armstrong said in a joint statement released by the team. “… Dave has truly been the heart and soul of this franchise since its inception in 1977.”

Niehaus is survived by wife, Marilyn; their three children, Andy, Matt and Greta; and six grandchildren, Zach, Steven, Madeline, Alexa, Audrey and Spencer.

In 2008 Niehaus received Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. Niehaus often said his most meaningful award was a citation from the Washington Association for the Blind.

Lured away from the broadcast team of the California Angels at age 42 to become the voice of the expansion Mariners, Niehaus was there from the first pitch in organization history at the Kingdome on April 6, 1977, to the final game of a dismal 2010 season Oct. 3 at Safeco Field.

Niehaus broadcast 5,284 of the 5,385 games played by the Mariners, and did it with contagious enthusiasm. His catchphrases became buzzwords for generations of Seattle baseball fans: “Fly away!” for home runs,” “Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma, it’s grand salami time!” for grand slams, and “My, oh, my!” for any impressive feat on the field.

Former Issaquah resident and ex-Mariner star Ken Griffey Jr. declared during a 710 ESPN Seattle radio interview Wednesday night. “Everybody talks about all the players. We can’t hold a candle to that man.”

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