The Niehaus memorial

I wound up being able to collect around 90+ “signatures’ from fans far and wide, printed everything out, arranged it so that the two pages were taped together, and tossed some stuff in a backpack and drove down to SafeCo Field yesterday for the memorial. That sentence is surely some sort of syntax violation, but I don’t care.

I managed to get quick, easy parking at the SafeCo Field garage, though there were indeed thousands of people coming in and out of the Field. The memorial out front had grown exponentially since we were there on Wednesday night, piles of flowers, a few stuffed Moose, letters, candles, more bread and mustard…people were crowded around it out front, reading the letters of condolence and leaving their own, taking pictures, chatting amongst themselves.

I walked into the gate and asked one of the attendants where the books were, and she kindly told me. On my way up the front stairs, I stopped to take a picture and suddenly, the gravity of the situation started to hit me a little more…

As I ascended the steps, I saw a line of people that stretched from over left field, around the main concourse towards the entrance to the field down the steps, and around the first baseline to home plate, where there was a table, some large photos, and other memorabilia for fans to look at – one of those was apparently Dave’s first scorebook from the first game he called for the Mariners back in 1977. I did not have enough time to wait in the line; it was a good few hours’ worth of wait, and I had to go pick up a friend from the downtown ferry terminal, but I did get a photo of the memorial:

I took off for my destination, the tables with the family books on them. There were several, and the books were longer, a little larger than legal-sized. There were pens and boxes of tissue. I did not need either, but the fact that the tissue was there made my throat hitch a little. I took out the list and began taping, and this was the final result:

After I was done, I kept my camera out and strolled around the main concourse. For as many people as were there, it was amazingly quiet. I ran into some folks from the blogosphere and Twitter, and chatted briefly with them before going down into the lower stands and sitting for a while. I took a small amount of video, trying to do the scene some justice, but I don’t know that any amount of video really could:

Some of the folks I ran into told me that there was a jersey hanging in the press box. You can see it in the photo above. I had to take the picture below twice to get a good shot – I had another really sad moment and the first one came out blurry.

Another fellow Twitter-er found me and we chatted briefly, and she let me in on where the salami and rye sandwiches were; it was then that I realized it was time to pick up Julie from the ferry port. A bit of conflict ensued – at around 30 minutes or so, I didn’t feel like I’d spent enough time there, but I didn’t want Jules to wait out in the cold. I was also a little hungry, and genuinely curious about the salami/rye combo. I decided to compromise; sandwich first so I could take some more pictures, and then I would leave as soon as possible.

I managed to get a bit of sandwich, and made sure that I nabbed some mustard, too. And yes, it was indeed quite delicious:

I took a few moments while eating to slowly stroll along the west wall, looking at TV screens with old games being replayed, hearing Dave’s calls all around me from TV to TV, and looking at memorabilia from Junior, Edgar, and others; then Julie called and let me know she was waiting for me down by the waterfront, so I finished my sandwich and walked out of SafeCo Field. I still have one of the mustard packets. I am debating keeping it on the shelf in my spare room, along with the baseball that has, among others, Dave’s signature from FanFest 2009.

As I ventured out of the stadium, I thanked the attendant who had told me where the books were, and then took some photos of the still-growing memorial out front.

This was the last piece of the memorial I saw, and it was at this point that I knew that it was time for me to go:

The funny thing is – or maybe it’s not so funny – I haven’t really cried yet. I’ve gotten a bit sniffly and teary, but there hasn’t been any all-out sadness. Like so many others, I don’t know that this will fully hit me until next season; and regardless of how cold and gray it is out for 2011’s home opener, I will be bringing sunglasses because I know that whatever they do before the game to remember Dave is going to really get me, and I just hate crying in public.

I am planning on going to whatever more formal ceremony is being organized in the future, but it was obvious that the fans really really needed this yesterday, and I’m glad that the Mariners organization could give it to them so quickly. I was thankful to be a part of it, and hope it could help take away the sting for fans, if only a small bit.

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6 Responses to The Niehaus memorial

  1. msb says:

    It made me sad to see Gregg looking sad as he talked with the receiving line…

  2. Chris_from_Bothell says:

    My meager cameraphone pics don’t really improve on what you got, but I do have somehting of a closeup of the memoribilia at home plate:

  3. Bart's Evil Twin says:

    It was pretty special to have a chance to take in the displays, and the salami sandwiches were a nice touch. The scorebook and HOF award were very cool, but I was really impressed with the willingness of Rick Rizzs and Dave’s family to greet the fans afterwards. I left at 4 PM, and there were still quite a few people waiting in line. The M’s organization did a nice job, and I hope the family got some small measure of solace from the outpouring of love that was there.

    Your gesture for the fans that couldn’t sign the books in person was really great! πŸ™‚

    • Megan Shear says:

      I didn’t know Rizzs was down there. If I had known, I might have tried to get down; I saw him on the news a few times, and it was obvious that he was really really affected by it. Since we listen to him every game too, I would have liked to have gone down there, would probably have given him a hug.
      Glad you got to go down there, and it was a well-organized and great way for the fans to say goodbye. At the risk of sounding weird, I’m looking forward to the more formal ceremony – a more formal thing will help with the closure aspect of things for me personally. I’ll be sure to wear my most waterproof makeup, though…

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