posted by Matt W on October 19th, 2011

The World Series is the culmination of another season of baseball, my favorite sport. It seems like I have always loved baseball. When I was a kid I collected baseball cards, like every other boy my age. Carl Yastrzemski was my favorite player, mostly because I liked his card the best. I also vividly remember listening to the radio with my grandfather as he kept score of the baseball games and being fascinated by all the numbers and columns on his sheet of paper.

In 1977 I finally had a home team to root for as the Seattle Mariners came to town. I’ve been a devoted baseball and more importantly Mariner fan ever since and this is mostly because of Dave Neihaus, the Mariners’ announcer until his passing last November. As with every Mariner fan, I have my favorite Mariner moments, but unlike most sports fans mine are more connected to the announcer than to the team. Here are a few of those memories.

In 1993 Chris Bosio threw a no-hitter for the Mariners. I was listening to Dave in the car and made it home in time to catch the last 3 outs on ESPN. I ran into the house to turn on the game and watched as the ESPN guys brought this historic Mariner event home. With one out to go, I ran out of the room with my wife yelling “You’re going to miss it.” I ran back into the room with a radio and frantically tuned it to the Mariners’ game. It had suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t need to see the play as much as I needed to hear Dave make that call. So I watched Chris Bosio’s no-hitter with the sound turned down on ESPN with Dave making the call, something I’m sure all Mariner fans have done over the years.

Another moment, I had gone to Fenway Park to see the Mariners play the Red Sox. I told my friend that I wanted a picture taken with Dave Neihaus at Fenway which he obviously thought was cool. We stood outside the player’s entrance as various players and team employees entered the stadium. An older gentleman entered the stadium with a colleague and walked right past us, only five feet away. As he made his way up the ramp I asked my friend, “Did we just let Dave Neihaus walk right past us?” “I think we did.” While I had seen Dave hundreds of times on TV, I still thought he would be more imposing in person. This was supposed to be the barrel chested “Voice of the Mariners,” the voice of an entire city, not this older man that walked right past me. I didn’t get my picture.

My final Neihaus story I’ll share is from 1985. The Mariners started out fast and in the 5th game of the season Phil Bradley hit a game winning grand slam home run to lift the Mariners to 5-0. This will always be my favorite baseball moment. When Mr. Neihaus made that call, I knew I had just heard the perfect radio call. The pure joy in his voice and the perfect wording, all came together and to this day when I hear that call, it gives me goose bumps. I read once that that this moment was one of his favorite calls and I felt good to know he felt it too. But I think the best thing about this call was it perfectly embodied the hope that Dave always brought to every broadcast. He always made me believe that this was the year that we would win it all.

Dave Neihaus is the main reason why I am a devoted Mariner Fan and always will be. I am thoroughly convinced that if it wasn’t for him baseball in Seattle wouldn’t exist (I thought it was perfect he threw out the first pitch at Safeco Stadium because he was the reason it was built). He made the many losing seasons not only bearable but exciting and fun. He brought joy and hope to Seattle in the form of baseball. Dave Neihaus never called a game in the World Series for the Mariners, but Dave taught me over the years to love Mariner baseball and look forward to each new season as one day we will be playing in October and it will be truly glorious. I hope all Mariner fans have learned this lesson as the teacher now rests.

Fly, Fly Away Dave Neihaus, you are forever missed.

File Under Jack of all Trades