We interrupt this novel: Tribute to Dave Niehaus

It is six thirty pm Wednesday, November 10, and we’ve known for a little more than an hour that Dave Niehaus, voice of the Seattle Mariners, passed away today. It seems a heart attack took him from his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his game.

And from all of us who counted on his voice to get us through long losing seasons and brief soaring moments of baseball brilliance.

Niehaus was more than a sports announcer. That’s a terrible cliché but it’s true. He was an artist who used the spoken word to create a world where baseballs would fly, fly away, where cans of corn would be caught midfield, and where cheese was high and tight while balls could be looooow…and outside. A world where we would all gasp and say my, oh my. That was a world where I spent a lot of time, and loved every minute of it.

Dave’s forte was radio, though he did a lot of television too. There was something magical about listening to him when you couldn’t see the plays. Sure, sometimes you’d run to the screen after he’d described a particularly stunning play to see it for yourself. But most of the time you were content to let him be the whole game for you. It was a better game that way, somehow. When Dave was on the radio, often I’d turn the sound off on the television and turn him up to get the best of both worlds.

It might seem odd to mourn someone so much when you’ve never met. But over the years I’ve spent more hours listening to Dave’s voice than anyone else’s, probably, even my mother’s. As his colleague Rick Rizzs, another superb broadcaster with a seriously infectious giggle, a guy who has worked with Niehaus for decades, said upon learning of his passing:

“When you turned on the radio, everything was right with the world when you heard Dave’s voice.”

I can’t write any more about him right now. Except to say thank you, Dave.

Read the Seattle Times story about Dave Niehaus here.

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