Dave Niehaus, Hall of Fame radio voice of Seattle Mariners, dies at 75

Thursday, November 11, 2010; 8:34 PM

Dave Niehaus, a Hall of Fame baseball announcer who called more than 5,000 games for the Seattle Mariners since the team was founded in 1977, died Nov. 10 after a heart attack at his home in Bellevue, Wash. He was 75.

Mr. Niehaus was the play-by-play radio voice of the Mariners from their first game April 6, 1977, through the end of the 2010 season. He was known for punctuating his calls with his trademark exclamations "My, oh my!" and "It will fly away!"

He received the Ford C. Frick award in 2008 and was inducted into the broadcasters' wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Except for the one-year experiment of the Seattle Pilots in 1969, the Pacific Northwest did not have major-league baseball until the Mariners debuted. Mr. Niehaus served as an instructor for fans new to the game.

During those early years, people tuned in on summer evenings to hear Mr. Niehaus put the best spin on some of the worst teams in baseball.

In Curt Smith's 1987 history of baseball broadcasting, "Voices of the Game," he described Mr. Niehaus as "capable, far more than his teams."

No matter how bad the Mariners were, Mr. Niehaus brought enthusiasm and drama to some horrible teams, horrible games and horrible seasons.

"All of us in this business, guys, this is the toy department of life," he said before his Hall of Fame induction in 2008. "We're lucky people."

Mr. Niehaus was born Feb. 19, 1935, in Princeton, Ind., and began broadcasting as a student at Indiana University. He worked for the Armed Forces Network before settling in Los Angles, where he called baseball games for the California Angels from 1969 to 1976, teaming with Dick Enberg and Don Drysdale. He also announced UCLA football and basketball games.

Mr. Niehaus never announced a World Series game with the Angels or Mariners, but his broadcasting during Seattle's pennant run in 1995 helped fuel the Northwest's passion for baseball.

When the Mariners beat the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Division Series in 1995, Mr. Niehaus's description of Edgar Martinez's winning hit was continually replayed.

Survivors include his wife, Marilyn Niehaus; three children; and six grandchildren.

- From news services and staff reports

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