Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dave Niehaus

Today my partner gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Dave Niehaus, the longtime voice of the Seattle Mariners takes his place alongside the immortals in Cooperstown. It’s an honor long overdue.

Since the team’s inception in 1977 Dave has been their lead announcer. Can you imagine how many truly bad, ugly games he has called over the years? The Mariners for the first twenty years were just God awful. And yet people in the Pacific Northwest clung to his every word. The attraction was not the team, it was listening to Dave. His passion for the game, vivid descriptions, and magnificent voice made any baseball game sound exciting, even a Mariners’.

Prior to joining Seattle, Dave worked alongside Dick Enberg calling games for the then-California Angels (now Los Angeles Angels of California in Anaheim). Team owner Gene Autry once said to Dave, “You call a hell of a game. It’s not the one I’m watching but it’s a hell of a game.” Actually that’s only half true. It is the game you’re watching, only better. Because Dave has something that so few announcers have today – SHOWMANSHIP. You’re not just getting play-by-play, you’re being told a tale by a master storyteller. Name me a better way of spending a warm summer night sitting out on the front porch.

Dave, I wish I could be there today, sharing in your shining moment. But just know I couldn’t be more thrilled for you and truly the highlight of my broadcast career was that I was privileged enough to work alongside you.

My oh my!

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with all you wrote Ken. I moved to the Northwest in 1979. The first thing I noticed was how bad the Mariners were and how terrific the broadcasts were. Dave and Ken Wilson were first rate. When you joined Dave the quality of baseball was just as bad as I remembered in 1979, but again the radio broadcasts were excellent.

Ken Wilson is going to broadcast the Jays/Mariners game tomorrow, while Dave is honored at Cooperstown. I am looking forward to hearing him again. What I would really like is for Ken Wilson and Dave to call a game on the radio again and the next day have you and Dave call a game. And to make things just like old times, once again the Mariners are playing awful baseball.

Stan from Tacoma

Paul said...

The Mariners are still God awful.

Just sayin'.

Chris said...

I was born in 1972 and having been following the M's ever since they started. Until the 1990s you could maybe see only two or three Mariners games on tv in a year! So Dave was the Mariners for me. I doubt I could have hung in there all those years without him. But I never really knew how great he was until Ron Fairly came along.

Paul Duca said...

You mean the Mariners didn't have a local TV contract at the beginning?

VP81955 said...

Can you imagine how many truly bad, ugly games [Dave Niehaus] has called over the years?

Yes, I can.

-- Charlie Slowes (radio play-by-play, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 1998-2004; Washington Nationals, 2005- ).

Michael Bell said...

I moved to Seattle in 1983 to do mornings at KYYX. The pay was horrible because the owner was bankrupt. But we had free tickets to every Mariner home game. I soon found out why.

The crowd attending numbered
maybe 200 people. The Mariners went through their entire pitching staff. All of them. They even began pulling players from other positions to pitch. At one point the game was delayed by 15 minutes while the umpires tried to figure out how to call a popped up ball lodged in the Kingdome speakers that hung overhead. The M's lost by, well, by a bunch.

But by that time I'd left. Driving back to my apartment I listened to Niehaus on the radio. It sounded like a completely different game. Dave made this incredible blowout sound like the playoffs.

At that moment I became a Dave Niehaus fan.

SeanK said...

You're a class act, Ken. Thanks for your kind words about Dave.

Mike Barer said...

Dave Niehaus, This day's for you!

MarkD said...

You and Dave were the absolute best announcing team I have ever heard.

Neil said...

Great words about Dave, Ken. I can remember enjoying a spring game in 1992 listening to you explaining Matzah and Passover to the great Mr. Niehaus during some blowout down in Arizona. I just watched Dave's speech and was terribly moved by it. Thanks to a class act, who lulled me gently to sleep as a boy back when the Mariners were infants on KVI in the 70's to the madcap fan of the 1990's and today.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Amen, Ken. Dave is the best. I've been listening to him since I moved up here in '78. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't remember your time in the booth, but don't be insulted. I often forget why I walk into another room these days.

Footnote, I just heard a Hall of Fame report on ESPN and they listed the inductees--MINUS DAVE! What a bunch of twits.

Eric Weinstein said...

Maybe your son is on his way too.

Jon Miller just quoted "Dirty Watah.com" (with a graphic) on the ESPN broadcast of the Yankees-Red Sox game when talking about Jon Lester. Way to go!

Eric

Brian said...

So Ken, you gonna come back and honor Dave by broadcasting some games with him? We M's fans are dying out here, the broadcast team is once again all we have!

Brian said...

Oh, and he did remember you, Ken, albeit a minute or two too late. At least this way you got your own special tribute in the Times:

"I forgot Ken Levine, for crying out loud," Niehaus said of his 1992 partner. "I thought of that the minute I stepped off stage. He's a great guy, one of my champions for getting here."

Carla said...

I read the transcript of Dave's speech and knew that he would feel like a schmo when he realized that he had forgotten you. Thank you for not fogetting him.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

You've done something right if a Hall of Famer is kicking himself for not naming you during his acceptance speech.

Anonymous said...

I'm not familiar with Dave (parenthetically - as you can see, quite literally - isn't it great how we refer to beloved announcers by their first names, like close friends?), but if his bond with fans was anything like the one Michiganders had with Ernie Harwell, I'm impressed.

VP81955 said...

I'm not familiar with Dave (parenthetically -- as you can see, quite literally -- isn't it great how we refer to beloved announcers by their first names, like close friends?), but if his bond with fans was anything like the one Michiganders had with Ernie Harwell, I'm impressed.

Or Philadelphians with Harry (and I don't mean Caray). I was one of the thousands of Phillies phans (hey, the Nationals didn't exist yet) who went up to Cooperstown in 2002 to see Harry the K get the Ford Frick Award. I'm sure if the Hall of Fame was in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho or some other place relatively close to Seattle, the place would have been swarming with M's fans Sunday.

One other thing, Ken: On one of the games from Los Angeles this weekend, Bob Carpenter mentioned the Dodgers have a person on staff whose job is taking care of celebrities. Might be worth an entry; can you tell us more about him or her, perhaps find out any good or funny stories pertaining to this work?

Arne said...

I just happened across this post a month too late. I have this little website going about the '95 Mariners, and it's clear that a lot of people (myself included) have Dave deeply wrapped up in their memories of the season and the whole franchise. Thanks to Mr. Niehaus and Ken for what they did. And I'll back the idea of having Ken and Dave hook up to call a game sometime this season (still almost a month left) and relieve the drudgery of a long series of meaningless games.