Sad news out of the Pacific Northwest tonight.
According to Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald, longtime Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus passed away from a heart attack this afternoon at the age of 75.
Niehaus was awarded the job of play-by-play announcer before Seattle’s inaugural season in 1977 and remained in that role through the 2010 season. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as 2008’s Ford C. Frick Award recipient and hearts are undoubtedly saddened this evening across the state of Washington.
Niehaus began his broadcasting career in 1957 on the Armed Forces Network. He was serving in the military and had just graduated from Indiana University.
He broke into baseball in 1969 as Dick Enberg’s partner on the California Angels’ broadcast and eventually began contributing on calls for the Los Angeles Rams and UCLA Bruins. In 1977, the Mariners wisely recruited Niehaus and made him the voice of the new franchise. He became the epitome of a fixture, calling nearly every Mariners game that has ever been played.
The M’s haven’t experienced a whole lot of winning seasons, so Niehaus’ calls aren’t broadcast regularly in highlight clips and on baseball documentaries. But he was an immensely talented announcer and he helped educate one of baseball’s most intelligent fan bases for the last 33 years.
Video-gamers in the 90s might also recognize his voice from Nintendo 64’s Ken Griffey Jr. Slugfest.
When the Mariners beat the Yankees in the franchise’s first ALDS appearance back in 1995, Niehaus shared in the joy:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
If you wanted to call someone “Mr. Mariner,” it would probably be Niehaus. He will be missed.
Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners and the Marlins are “fairly close” on a trade that would send reliever David Phelps to Seattle. Earlier Ken Rosenthal and others reported that the sides were talking, but that a deal was not imminent.
Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. Basically everything you want in a reliever, right?
The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation.
Corey Sager homered in the Dodgers’ win over the White Sox last night. It was his 45th career homer, 44 of which have come while playing shortstop. While that’s great given that the guy has only played in 270 games, it’s not a lot of homers in an absolute sense. Thousands of players have more homers than that, obviously. Baseball has been around for a long time!
But it’s enough to set a record. A Los Angeles Dodgers record, specifically, for the most homers from a shortstop. It puts Seager past Rafael Furcal, who hit 43 while wearing Dodger blue. The record for the franchise, including Brooklyn, is Pee Wee Reese, who hit 122.
It seems astounding that no other Dodgers shortstop has hit more than 44 homers in the nearly 60 years since the club has been in Los Angeles, but it’s true. If you had asked me before I saw the factoid mentioned on Twitter I would’ve bet my life that Bill Russell would’ve had more. Not because he had any power — he was, in fact, one of the more punchless players of his era — but because he simply played in L.A. so long, logging 1,746 games at short for Walt Alston and Tommy Lasorda. Nope. He only hit 46 in his 18-year career, with a handful of those coming as an outfielder. His season high is seven. Seager has hit seven homers in May of his rookie season.
Oh well, you learn something new every day.