Thursday, July 04, 2013

Dave Niehaus celebrates the 4th of July

Dave Niehaus WAS Seattle baseball.  From their very first game until he unfortunately passed away in 2010, Dave was the voice of the Mariners.  He was passionate, colorful, and something that is sadly almost gone in baseball broadcasting these days -- a storyteller.  Even with bad teams, fans would tune in just to hear Dave spin a yarn.  Play-by-play was an art.  And now, as someone said, the airwaves are filled with "blow dried voices." 

Back in the early '90s it was my honor to be his partner.  Dave had many traditions.  As much as he loved the Mariners he loved this country more.  And every 4th of July he wore this guady red, white, and blue shirt and an even guadier red, white,, and blue jacket.  I don't know if any photos of that jacket exist.

This was a photo from July 4th, 1992.  We were in Tiger Stadium, Detroit.  In the shot you have me, Kevin Cremin (the best producer-engineer in sports and unrelated fields), and Mr. Niehaus sporting his holiday-appropriate-but-not-appropriate-for-any-other day shirt.

They say the 4th of July is as American as baseball and apple pie.  I would also add Dave Niehaus.   


diane said...

Dave Niehaus taught me to really love baseball. Not just to watch the game, but to enjoy the history, skills and personalities of the game. I agree wholeheartedly that his ability to tell a story was extraordinary. I feel very lucky to have listened to him for years and miss him very much.

PS. You are also missed. You two were a wonderful duo.

Hoverbored said...

Dear Ken,

Sorry if this is oddly placed, but I guess this is the only way to send in questions.

I'm an aspiring writer who's about to start a spec script. The question is, how do you determine which show to write for? Should I write the agencies and ask? Or are all shows more or less equally (un)receptive?

You've doubtless noticed that, while many shows are filmed in L.A., very few are actually set there. Why do you suppose that is?

Congratulations on your daughter's first sale! This leads into my next question: what do you suppose explains the general quality of shows aimed at kids and teens? Nickelodeon shows in particular seem to rely on gags that were done better fifty years ago.

For example: ,VicTORIous was an ensemble show about a group of teens at a performing arts high school. Half the cast had already been on Broadway, and all of them had sitcom experience. It was possibly the most talented youth cast you could possibly assemble.

Yet week after week the show stumbled, hobbled by an odd mix of lazy gags and unsettling sexual subtext. I understand that these shows are aimed at kids, but the things is, a lot of gags are made as "parental bonuses," as only an adult would understand them. Even so, from an adult standpoint, these kind of gags come off as creepy.

For example: The protagonist's dim-witted (read: mentally challenged) friend is hanging out with some surfer boys on the beach. At one point, she and one of the boys are making a ceramic pot on a potter's wheel (kind of an odd thing to do at the beach, isn't it?). The boy is sitting behind her, and they're doing the "Ghost" thing with their hands. That's the joke.

This perfectly exemplifies how this show's humor falls flat: kids won't get the joke, but it doesn't make sense from an adult standpoint, either. Maybe it's just me...

Sorry to rant; thanks for reading!

Joseph M.

Lenny Parker said...

Hi Ken,

There is this common belief that query letters are a waste of time because nobody pays any attention to them.

From your experience, do you believe this is true?

An agent is a businessperson. So, do you think mentioning certain well-known advertisers in the letter will attract their attention even if the writer is young and inexperienced?

For example, if you've written a funny script about athletes. Nike might be interested in plugging a commercial or two.

Dan Fogelman's "The Neighbours" has a character named Larry Bird. Nike could be interested. However, maybe a little less now that it's no longer paired with "Modern Family" but rather relegated to the Friday night death slot with "Last Man Standing." Care to make a blind prediction on which of those two shows will remain standing at the end of the season?

Sorry for rambling on. The agent and advertiser questions are the ones that I'm most curious about.


Anonymous said...

I read this as I am watching theM's on tv. Thank you Ken for reminding me of Dapper Dave, we all miss him.

Brent said...

I have no idea how he managed to remain positive through all those long, losing seasons. Nowadays, when a radio game broadcast seems to be one big three hour commercial where everything from the first pitch to the last out has a sponsor, he could tell a story that made you stop what you were doing so you didn't miss a word, sponsor message or no. He was the best.

jake said...

That's an awesome photo. If it can't be Seattle, then Tiger Stadium is the perfect backdrop for this.

One of the great things about Macklemore's massive breakout this year is getting more attention for "My Oh My." It's a perfect song for a kid growing up on baseball, especially baseball on the radio. Rap & hip hop aren't my genres but it's still a terrific song, and certainly Dave Niehaus deserved much better than Phil Rizzuto got from Meatloaf - and Macklemore delivered.

Which leads to a Friday question: will we continue to have baseball announcers with the kind of civic and team identities that Vin Scully, Dave Niehaus, Harry Caray, Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell (and many others) have/had? Or will things go the ESPN way, deep sixing the Jon Millers in favor of anodyne announcers but prominent ex-player analysts.

Anyway, here's hoping you'll be on the Vin Scully you can get your expenses covered for your travelogues.

Cap'n Bob said...

The great thing about Dave was when he was announcing you forgot that the team stunk. Or is that stank? Both.

Erich Cannon said...

I miss hearing Dave's voice every Mariner game to this day.

Breadbaker said...

Ken, thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting this. I listened to Dave every summer from 1979 until he died. I only got to meet him once, but he was such a gentleman that one time, and he made you feel every game as though he was visiting with you. Although I can hear his voice without even thinking about it (how many voices have I heard more in my life, I wonder), it is still his silences I remember best. He let you hear the sound of the game through his mic when nothing was going on on the field: vendors, the rumble of the crowd, some chatter from the bench or the infield. He knew we trusted him enough he didn't have to entertain us every second. I'm afraid you can't teach that skill (though you have it, too, which is high praise).

So many announcers miss stuff these days; you could turn on the game at any point and guess the score from his intonation, and when a rally was coming his voice would go up an octave before the actual hits occurred. He just got baseball. It's not been as fun to listen since 2010. He spoiled us and no one can really replace him.

Liggie said...

A handful of years ago, Dave adapted Ernie Harwell's essay on baseball for Mariners fans, and performed a masterful reading of it. I heard it yesterday driving home from work. Here it is. Everyone, enjoy:

Paul Duca said...

At least Seattle respects some of its legends...I just learned Pat O'Day has been relieved of his duties as TV commentator for the hydroboat races that are part of the annual Seafair festivities--a position he has held since 1967.

VP81955 said...

Ken, here's a wonderful (and inspiring) story on the Syracuse Chiefs' current play-by-play announcer:


David Higuera said...

Dave H.
Thanks for the memories Ken...i moved up to Seattle in 1984 and always appreciated the way that Dave Niehhaus called a game. 1994 was the year for the Mariners and Dave N. was up for the games. He will always be the "voice" of the Mariners for me. Heaven help the Dodger fans when Mr. Vin Scully passes on...

Mike Barer said...

When Dave left, he took the soul of Seattle with him. I remember his passing as "the day it rained tears in Seattle"

Tom Lawrence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Lawrence said...

Swung on ... and BELTED!
Great story. I lived in the Pacific NW for several years in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, and listening to Mariners' games was a joy. Dave Niehaus was a master. His passion came through and that exciting team -- so much talent but no rings -- was a pleasure to follow.

Anonymous said...

As a Blue Jays fan I can certainly relate. Both teams came into the league at the same time and Tom Cheek did every Jays game until June 2004 when he had to retire for health reasons and died a year later.

He will always be the "Voice of the Blue Jays" in my head.