I’ve had two pints of beer down at Jimmy’s with a small group of folks from Twitter, so pardon me if this sounds disjointed. I’m still in shock, still not sure what I can do to make this all sound as heartfelt and honest and grounded as I’d like to make it sound. Contrary to what the media might have you think, not all goths run around clicking their heels and reveling in the concept of death – and I make this joke not to make light of our current situation in Mariners Land, but because I really really still don’t know how to react to today’s news; I just don’t. It took me a good few weeks to finally have a good cry over my grandmother’s death over a decade ago, and it may actually take a bit longer than that for all of this to sink in and make its little nest of sadness in the part of my brain that registers such things.
I think the hardest part of today has not been the actual event, but more what it inspired; mainly, again, via Twitter – messages by the droves from people sending Mariners fans their condolences, and fans themselves trying to make sense of the death of our voice. Dave Niehaus was the Mariners. He was the voice of the team, the game as it was known in Seattle, especially back before the wonderful leisurely days of FSN, which a new fan like me now almost takes for granted. There was a time in this city, before I was a fan, where you couldn’t just casually turn on the TV and watch a game locally. Maybe 30 or so games a season were aired, if fans were lucky. No FSN, no FOX Saturday Baseball, no automatic assumption that one could come home after a hard day’s work in the middle of summer and switch on the game.
But Dave was there.
I sat in Jimmy’s tonight and listened to a few people who have been Seattle residents all their lives, and who have followed the Mariners all their lives talk about what Dave Niehaus meant to them. I can’t sum it up, because, as conversation usually does in a stressful time, talk jumped between remembering Dave’s calls and sadness over his death, and things that were going on on the TVs around us in the bar. But it was obvious from the discussions at hand that Niehaus will be gravely missed. There is little that I as a new fan (and still being in massive amounts of denial/shock/etc) can really say to do the man justice, so I’ve decided to allow the Mariners Army to speak for itself…
“Made it down to safeco field and poured out some Jameson for Mr. Niehaus. Left a baseball with a message for him written on it. R.I.P.” @hxchairstylist
“Thanks to all who called in, texted, tweeted, etc tonight. Dave was a one of a kind broadcaster & man. Honored I could be on air tonight” @mattpitman
“Today we lost our voice and dear friend. Can’t stop the tears but cherish the memories. Love ya Dave. Miss you terribly already.” @Kevin_Martinez
“My treasured Niehaus memory: Walking through the Hall of Fame, just me and him, two days before he was honored in Cooperstown (more)…I was with Dave when he saw his plaque for 1st time, among those of his heroes, Harry Caray, Vin Scully, et al. A very emotional moment.” @StoneLarry
“Devastated by the passing of Dave Niehaus. Fly away, Dave, to a better place, where the M’s win the World Series every year!” @pokano
“Dave Niehaus–RIP partner!” @DSpxp
“I’ve seen a lot of Mariners losses over the years. This is without a doubt the worst one ever.” @paulbalcerak
“Just finished Dave Niehaus stories for The Herald. We’re supposed to be “detached” from our stories, but it’s hitting pretty hard right now.” @kirbyarnold
“Oh Dave Niehaus…we love you so much. You made so much terrible baseball so much fun. Can’t believe how sad I am.” @MarinerHwife
“If heaven is as beautiful as imagined, the likes of Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell, Harry Kalas & Dave Niehaus will say your name as you enter.” @Jerry_Brewer
“I feel like there’s been a death in the family. And really…there has been.” @scottyweebs
” “Swung on and BELTED deep to right field! MY OH MY!” God Bless you Dave Niehaus. RIP to my mentor.” @Boydwonder
“Sad day for #Mariners Nation. Dave Niehaus, is dead at 75. Fly, fly away to heaven, my friend. Fly, Fly away.” @BillWixey
“What a sad, sad day. The smooth voice of mariners baseball has been silenced. #RIPDave ” @baseballchar
“A Mariners legend has passed away today. I’m crushed. RIP Mr Niehaus. Thoughts and prayers to his family.” @seattlesince81
“Its amazing how sad one can be over the loss of Dave Niehaus. Its like grandpa died. Summer will never be the same in Seattle.” @loserboy
“For all the times, Dave Niehaus came up and talked to me. I can’t think of a time where it didn’t seem special. #Mariners” @TNTmariners
“Would have wished Dave Niehaus could have called a Mariners World Series. So happy that he was able to savor his place in Cooperstown.” @AquaSoxRadio
“I think the call that comes to my head is the MAMMOTH shot from Mark McGwire off of Randy that hit the back wall of the Kingdome” @CrippleCreekBBQ
“Car just drove slowly past Safeco Field, loudly blasting Dave Niehaus’ voice. “My, oh my” ” @joshtrujillo
“I can’t think of a single more important Seattle sports icon than Dave Niehaus. Taught us how to lose with dignity and win with humility.” @seahawkaddicts
“With a smile and tears, thank you Dave. On my back you will remain: MY OH MY. The Seattle Mariners loses a legend tonight.” @MyOhMyMariners
“Sad day for th Mariners family with the passing of Dave Niehaus…Thanks for all the memories #thanksdave #myohmy ” @EverettAquaSox
“I’m eating salami with rye bread and mustard tonight. RIP Dave” @bradnelson
“Tomorrow I’m going shopping. The List? Rye Bread, Mustard, Salami. That’s it.” @sounderatheart
“Tonight we mourn the passing of Dave Niehaus. Nobody loved the game of baseball of the Seattle Mariners more.” @TheRealMariners
“It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 105. If you’re from Seattle and call yourself a sports fan, Dave Niehaus narrated your life. I’m devastated” @alexssn
I could go on and on with this, I really could – this isn’t even half of what was on Twitter, including links to photos and audio clips, blog posts and news stories. And it will likely continue tomorrow. According to King 5 News, the Mariners organization is trying to figure out a way to open its doors to fans tomorrow (or later today, at this late time of 12.45am) for a proper remembrance ceremony. I have an appointment at 10.30 in the morning, and another at 4pm, but am hoping it is planned for a time of day when I will actually be able to make it down to the field. But if all else fails, I was there tonight, and that might have to do.
Photos of the small vigil offerings left out by the home plate entrance. As I wandered back to my car, I noticed someone had also left a bouquet of white roses on the thumb of the bronze glove sculpture by the left field entrance.
I still don’t feel like I have any closure, and it might take me a while to get to that point. For what it’s worth, I’m glad I went down there tonight. It just seemed like what needed to be done. After 5,284 games called by one person, only a fraction of which I’ve been able to personally listen to, it seemed like the least I could do. Rest in much, much peace, Mr Niehaus. It was a privilege and an honor to listen to you.
EDIT: there is expected to be an announcement sometime today (Thursday, November 11th) about a public memorial.