A typical PawSox home game ends around 10:00 pm and by the time we’ve wrapped up the post-game show and I’ve taken care of some stats and notes that I’m responsible for, my 48-minute drive home usually begins around 11:00.
Thanks to XM radio, Seattle Mariners’ broadcaster Dave Niehaus not only made the late night commute bearable – he made it enjoyable. If the Mariners had a home game, I knew I’d have the pleasure of listening to a master at work.
Niehaus was the Mariners’ primary play-by-play announcer from the team’s inception in 1977 until his passing of a heart attack at the age of 75 on Wednesday. He received the Ford Frick Award in Cooperstown for his “major contributions to baseball” in 2008 and is unquestionably one of the greatest broadcasters in history.
The thing that stood out to me about Niehaus was his incredible enthusiasm. Every time I tuned in, Dave sounded as happy as my 4-year-old son Sam was last week when I brought home the Toy Story 3 DVD he had been asking for.
Keep in mind, that’s how Niehaus sounded after calling more than 5,000 Mariners games.
There’s a tremendous lesson there for anyone in sports broadcasting. If you can’t have a blast when you’re sitting in the best seat in the house while getting paid to talk about a sporting event, you’re in the wrong business.
Dave’s calls of famous moments in Mariners history are priceless, and usually ended with his signature phrase, “My oh my.”
Some of his most memorable calls can be heard here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/flatpages/video/mediacenterbc3.html?bctid=30741168001
But I plan to go to MLB.com’s Gameday Audio section, pick out a random Mariners game from last season and listen to Niehaus weave his magic on an average night in the middle of a losing season. I know I’ll laugh, marvel at his descriptive abilities, and feel like I’m listening to the most exciting game of the year.
My commute home won’t be the same next summer.
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