My Favorite Dave Niehaus Memory
I’ve been struggling since I heard the news. I felt like I should write something, but didn’t want to just put up a post because I was supposed to. And, unlike Shannon Drayer or someone else close to him, I didn’t have much personal experience with the man. I met him once when I was younger, but our relationship has been a one way street. And besides, Dave didn’t like blogs, and if he knew what I wrote, he probably wouldn’t have liked me all that much.
But I liked him. Listening to him call a baseball game always reminded me of why I became a fan in the first place. He was the personification of my childhood, and now he’s gone. I can’t write a tribute to the man the way Shannon did, so instead, I’m just going to tell you a story.
Every year, the school I attended had three day getaways for all the students. We went to the woods, did a bunch of stuff, and “got away from it all”. In order to enforce the not-your-normal-routine environment, they banned electronics from the trip. Most of my friends were mad that they couldn’t bring their gameboys. I was mad that I couldn’t bring my radio. You see, in 1995, they just happened to schedule this thing for October 3rd through the 5th, better known to most of Seattle as Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series between the Mariners and Yankees. I was the biggest baseball fan in the school, and they decided to take us on a get-away-from-life trip to the mountains during the first two playoff games the Mariners would ever play. And they outlawed radios.
Looking back, I can’t believe my parents made me go. What a ridiculous decision that was, and one that I’m going to yell at them for now that I think about it. But, they did make me go, and so on the day of Game 1, I piled into a bus with my sleeping bag and various assorted toiletries, and off we went. When we got to the camp, I went to our little a-frame cabin and unpacked my stuff, including my super-secret weapon against their nefarious plot to keep me from playoff baseball – an alarm clock. I had to wake up on time to get to breakfast, after all, so the chaperone couldn’t put up a fight about me having that one item that needed to be plugged in. It was pure coincidence that I brought an alarm clock that happened to have a radio, of course.
The real problem came from the time difference. Since the game was on the east coast, it was played at around dinner time, and I had no reason to bring my “alarm clock” to dinner or the night meeting. I had to try, though, so I stuck the bulky thing in my jacket and sat near a plug while I ate. I managed to catch the first few innings before we had to head over to the Lodge, as Dave gracefully informed me that Chris Bosio was pitching like, well, Chris Bosio. Unfortunately, my contraband was detected and I was asked to surrender the radio before we transitioned to the meeting at night. Luckily for me, my captor was also our basketball coach, who happened to be a pretty big sports fan himself.
During the meeting, he decided to put my radio to good use, plugging it in in a back room somewhere and occasionally running me updates. Bobby Ayala was terrible? Well, I knew that already. Game 1 ended before our meeting did, and I was informed of the bad news before getting my alarm back for the evening.
Wednesday, though, the game ran long. You may remember it as a five hour, 15 inning epic affair that featured four innings of Norm Charlton, among other things. This time, I had brought my radio to the accomplice, figuring some updates were better than nothing. When our meeting ended, however, the game was still going on. I got there in time to hear Dave call Jim Leyritz’s home run with just enough disgust in his voice, but I also heard Dave remind us all of how crazy the season had been, and how Randy Johnson was taking the hill on Friday, and that we couldn’t give up on this team now.
I can still hear Dave’s encouragement in my ears. He imparted hope to a young boy who was not ready for the team’s playoff run to be over.
Four days later, we got The Double. I watched that one on TV, but we weren’t listening to Brent Musberger. We were only interested in hearing one voice call that final game, and it came through the radio. Everyone knows how that call went, and while I’m part of the masses that get goosebumps every time I hear Dave yell “the throw to the plate will be late…”, I also remember sitting in the woods, gathered around a crappy alarm radio, hearing Dave tell me that the Mariners were coming home, and with The Big Unit on the mound, anything was possible.
When Dave Niehaus was broadcasting a game, anything was possible. We’ll all be back for opening day, but it won’t feel as special without Dave around. You will be missed greatly, sir.