November 10, 2010

FLY AWAY:

Mariners Broadcaster Niehaus Dies at 75 (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 11/10/10)

From the Mariners' debut in 1977, Niehaus served as an instructor for baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest, a region void of the major league game sans the Seattle Pilots' one-year experiment in 1969. Adults and kids regularly tuned in on summer evenings to hear Niehaus try and put his best spin on what were among the worst teams in baseball during much of the club's history.

But no matter how bad the Mariners were, Niehaus never let the on-field product affect his approach to the game. He always 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," Niehaus said before his Hall of Fame induction in 2008. "It's a narcotic. Anyone who is involved in this business, whether it be my end or (the writing) end or the front office end, we're lucky. We're lucky people."

Niehaus got into broadcasting as a student at Indiana. He worked for the Armed Forces Network in Los Angeles and New York before anchoring himself in the L.A. market in the late 1960s and early '70s, calling games for the California Angels and UCLA football. In 1976 at the baseball winter meetings, Niehaus was encouraged to interview for the lead play-by-play job with the expansion Mariners.

As much as Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Ichiro Suzuki were responsible for making Seattle relevant in professional baseball, it was Niehaus telling their stories along the way.

"He was a consummate pro at everything he did," former Seattle outfielder Jay Buhner said. "I am going to miss everything about the guy — going to miss his face, his ugly white shoes and his awful sport coats. He was one-of-a-kind."


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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 10, 2010 9:57 PM
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