Dave Neihaus was a friend. Of course, he was every Seattle Mariner fan’s friend, and he would have been the first to agree. I guess I was luckier than most because while he probably couldn’t have picked me out of a police lineup, I was very fortunate to have worked with the man several times in my career.
Most of our interactions came while I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO radio in the early 1980s. On days that the regular production guy was not in, I was asked to “board” Dave when he came in to record the Brooks McKnight Chevrolet commercials he did as their spokesperson. He was always pleasant, a consummate pro and I would just watch in amazement at him as he delivered those lines, concluding with a deep-throated “On Bellevue’s Auto Row”.
Dave Niehaus was able to live a dream and he knew it. I remember listening to him along with Dick Enberg doing the Anaheim Angels games in the 1970s. That is, until 1977, when Dave had a chance to come to the upper northwest corner of the country to be the main voice of the new Seattle Mariners. Over the past 34 seasons, Dave WAS the Seattle Mariners.
He deservedly was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2008, as if the sport knew that time was running out. Future generations will have to settle for recordings of him doing the play-by-play, but we got to live it. One of the things that will always stick in my mind about Dave was when he refused to say the name of FOX SPORTS’ “Best Damn Sports Show” on the radio. He just couldn’t bring himself to say the word, “Damn” because he felt it just wasn’t right. And what if the kids listening to the game would hear him say that? Not on his watch. Another announcer handled that duty.
Dave didn’t pass away until after this year’s World Series, which I’m sure he appreciated. You heard the announcers talk about how long ago it had been since the Giants were in the World Series. That was when Dave was back in his teens, when he was just a fan. He probably could have named the entire lineup of that Giants team back in the 1950s.
Dave Niehaus was a talented guy, but he was also a very lucky guy. Yet, we were even luckier to have gotten to know him.
“My, oh my!”
Baseball will continue in Seattle, but it will never be the same. We were fortunate to live during the golden years, thanks to Dave.