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In memoriam: Dave Niehaus

Dave NiehausDave Niehaus, one of the most recognizable voices in baseball and an original employee of the Seattle Mariners, for whom he called games for 17 years, passed away after a heart atack in his suburban Bellevue home. He was 75.

Niehaus was present for every big moment in Mariners history — Randy Johnson and Chris Bosio no-hitters, Gaylord Perry‘s 300th win, amazing victories to put the team in the playoffs — and became the face of the franchise during some really tough times, especially in the early days when the team struggled in the concrete vault known as the Kingdome.

Niehaus was born in 1935 and headed west, serving as an NBC page before being drafted. After serving as a broadcaster in Armed Forces Radio, Niehaus worked as a weekend sports reporter before landing a gig in 1966 calling Los Angeles Rams games as well as some USC and UCLA sports. That was his springboard to a job with the California Angels, where he called games between 1969 and 1976, with a stung with the Hawaii Islanders (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) in the middle.

“This is truly devastating news,” said Seattle Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln.

Chuck Armstrong, Seattle Mariners president and COO, added, “Speaking for ourselves, our ownership and the entire Mariners family, our thoughts and prayers are with Marilyn, their children, Andy, Matt and Greta, and the grandchildren.

“Dave has truly been the heart and soul of this franchise since its inception in 1977. Since calling Diego Segui’s first-pitch strike on Opening Night in the Kingdome some 34 years ago, Dave’s voice has been the constant with the franchise. He truly was the fans connection to every game; to wins and losses; to great plays and heartbreaking defeats; to Hall of Famers and journeymen. With the exception of his love for his wife, Marilyn, his children and grandchildren, there was nothing Dave liked more than the game of baseball and to be at the ballpark. He was the voice of spring and summer in the Northwest.

“He was the fans’ choice to throw out the first pitch in Safeco Field history, and no one has had a greater impact on our team’s connection to fans throughout the Northwest. One of the best days we’ve ever spent was in Cooperstown in 2008, as Dave took his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

“All of baseball is terribly saddened tonight by the tragic news that Dave Niehaus, the voice of the Seattle Mariners, has passed away,” said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. “He was one of the great broadcast voices of our generation, a true gentleman, and a credit to baseball.

“He was a good friend and I will miss him. But he will be sorely missed, not only in the Pacific Northwest, where he had called Mariners games since the club’s inception in 1977, but wherever the game is played. Dave was a Hall of Famer in every way. On behalf of Baseball, I offer my condolences to his wife, Marilyn, his children and grandchildren, to the Seattle Mariners organization, and to his many fans.”

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