'His voice is Seattle baseball'
Accolades pour in for Niehaus, the newest Hall of Famer
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Get out the rye bread, Grandma, longtime buddies Dave Niehaus and Dick Williams are going into the Hall of Fame together.Almost three months after Williams was one of five managers and baseball executive elected into the Hall of Fame, Niehaus on Tuesday -- his 73rd birthday -- gained entry into the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine, as the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner. Both will be inducted on July 27. "This is great, really terrific," said Williams from his home near Las Vegas. "We go way back, to when we were both with the Angels. We have known each other for a long, long time." Their paths first crossed in 1974, when Williams became manager of the Angels and Niehaus was a member of the broadcast crew. They renewed their friendship a month into the 1986 season, when Williams took over as manager of the Mariners, and have been close ever since. "We would go to Lake Chelan with our wives during the All-Star break. Neither one of us were ever in it," said Williams, referring to the Midsummer Classic. As of Tuesday afternoon, Williams still hadn't talked to Niehaus, but he did leave a phone message. "I told him we would take Cooperstown by storm and it would never be the same," he laughed. The reaction to Niehaus' long-awaited selection was widespread. From Mariners manager John McLaren: "My, oh, my, what a great, exciting day this is for the city of Seattle, the Seattle Mariners and for the man himself, Dave Niehaus. I am so happy for him. It has made my day." From Ken Griffey Jr.: "I've known Dave for a long time, and my family and I were excited to hear he'll be inducted into the broadcasters' wing of the Hall of Fame. We're very happy for him. No one is ever going to forget 'My, oh, my' or 'It will fly away.' It's a tremendous honor for Dave and the Mariners family." From former Mariners pitcher Norm Charlton: "It's about time. He's been well-deserving for a long time, one of the best for a long time. He's been doing this for 100 years, it seems. He has a lot of sayings, a lot of character and a lot of charisma."
From former Mariners manager Lou Piniella, now the Cubs skipper: "I had the pleasure of working with Dave for 10 years. What a professional and a great announcer. He had a great career that culminated with him getting into the Hall of Fame. I'm happy for him. He's a good friend and I salute his career. He's good at what he does and he's getting rewarded for it."Niehaus has been the Mariners' play-by-play announcer since the franchise started in 1977 and has built a following throughout the Northwest. "He's the man," McLaren said. "You can say what you want about Ken Griffey Jr., A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez] and Ichiro [Suzuki], but make no mistake about it, Dave Niehaus is the man. His voice is Seattle baseball." And Charlton is "The Sheriff" because of Niehaus. "He gave me that nickname in '95, and it stuck," Charlton said. "I guess it was because I had a ranch in Texas and I'd come in to save a game during that little run and it would be like Wyatt Earp or something coming in. "I have been called a lot of things, and that's a pretty good one." Charlton, now the Mariners bullpen coach, said Niehaus might be "slowing down a little" because of his age, but he's still better than almost everybody else." Of the numerous calls he has made over this 31-year career with the Mariners, the vivid description of Edgar Martinez hitting The Double against the Yankees in the 1995 American League Division Series, scoring Joey Cora from third and Griffey from first still gives McLaren goosebumps "every single time I hear the call, the way he describes it." "You really don't know how good Dave is until you see one of those 'Night before Christmas' videos he does," Charlton said. "You say, 'Wow, that's the same guy that calls our games.' He is good at something besides a baseball game."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.