The Mariners paid tribute to their late Hall of Fame broadcaster, Dave Niehaus, before Friday night’s home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field. His widow, Marilyn Niehaus, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and many fans wore white shoes in a light-hearted tribute to Niehaus, the franchise’s lead announcer from 1977 through the 2010 season.
Two years ago, Art Thiel and Steve Rudman of Sportspress Northwest, in collaboration with Mike Gastineau of KJR, asked Niehaus to recall some of the things that had made him cry “My Oh My!” over the years for project we were developing. Dave complied and we included his entry into “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists.”
Things That Caused Me To Say My Oh My!: By Dave Niehaus
7. The life, times, and death of the Kingdome. It was laboratory baseball. There are no elements to bother the baseball; no wind, no high sky. But it was never an ugly old lady to me. It will always be a huge part of my life. She was a dowager. When you consider what happened there: it got us a new baseball team in 1977. First time you walked into the Kingdome it was like Wow!
6. A night talking baseball with Casey Stengel. It was in 1958 or 59. Hed come in the press room at Yankee Stadium after the game and have a couple of drinks. He drank scotch. As the evening wore on he had a few scotches and said, Where do you live, son? I live in Kew Gardens. I was an Army E2 at the time I dont think I even had a stripe. I wasnt even a private first class. (Niehaus worked for Armed Forces Radio.) He said, Would you like to come over to my place and have a drink? I said, Are you kidding me? So his chauffeur took us down to the Essex House where he lived and we sat there and talked baseball and drank until the sun was coming up. When I told him I was planning on taking the subway home, he went downstairs with me and gave a cabbie a 20-dollar bill, which was like $100 today, and he said, Make sure this young man gets home safely. I ended up going to his funeral. It was a celebration more than anything else. They played Take Me out to the Ballgame. It was a happening.
5. Jay Buhners defensive skills. The way he played that carom off the right field wall in the Kingdome he would nail guys going to second base and hed nail guys going from first to third. He played that like a Stradivarius, those bounces that would come off the wall out there whether they were high, or in the middle, or low. Ive never seen anybody play the outfield like that, except maybe Joe Rudi in Oakland. Jay was a master. It was like going to a fronton to watch jai alai. He was unbelievable out there.
4. Helping Lou Piniella with his crossword puzzle. We lost a tough game in Boston on a hit-and-run that backfired. We were on our way home, flying across country. I had introduced him to crossword puzzles. So he comes down the aisle of the plane still upset about the game, complaining about how we lost. Then he says, By the way, the clue is movie alien, and its only two letters. And I said, “ET, Lou. ET.” And he says, How do you spell that?
3. Junior. He deserves a whole My Oh My! section to himself. He in his prime is the best pure talent Ive ever seen. Were at Tiger Stadium; the deepest centerfield in baseball. Junior is in right center and a left-handed batter slices the ball into left-center field and, man, Griffey is flying over there and he gets his glove on the ball and the ball goes off his glove. Just a tremendous effort, and I said, Junior usually makes that catch. So we go to New York and the next afternoon he yells at me, “Hey Niehaus! My people tell me you said I should have made that catch last night in Detroit.” I said, “Your people tell you wrong.” He said, “What did you say?” I said, “I said you USUALLY make that catch.” He got a grin on his face and said, “Yeah, I usually do, dont I?
2. The great plays. Cammys four home runs . . . Randys no-hitter . . . Bosios no-hitter, which featured Omar Vizquels incredible play on a chopper over the mound; one of the most exciting final outs in the history of no-hitters . . . Randy coming in from the bullpen in Game 5 of the 95 Yankees series . . . Edgars double in that same game . . . Brian Holman losing the perfect game . . . Marc Newfield hitting into an unassisted triple play at Fenway Park . . . Ichiro breaking the hits record.
1. Opening night 1977. I had come up here from Anaheim. (Sen.) Scoop Jackson threw out the first pitch. It was my first chance to be a No. 1 announcer.
1A. From the fans. In July of 2008, Dave was inducted into the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. That sound you heard was millions of baseball fans in the Northwest giving a hearty, My Oh My!