“I have never been so sad to lose someone I never met.” The words of one Mariner fan on Facebook at a memorial page for the team’s radio announcer Dave Niehaus. His death this week from a heart attack has affected a lot of people in the Pacific Northwest in the same way.
Sports commentator Art Thiel knew Dave Niehaus very well and tells KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick what the Hall of Fame broadcaster was like, when the microphone was off.
Art says Dave Niehaus was larger than life. But despite being an icon in the Pacific Northwest, he always showed sincere interest in everyone he met.
"Dave was in the homes and in the hearts of everyone...in the Northwest. That intimacy, that familiarity was really special to a lot of people. Those of us who had friendships with him were even more blessed."
Art shared the last conversation he had with Dave Niehaus, which was a few weeks ago when the Mariners introduced their new manager, Eric Wedge. After getting the typical warm greeting from Dave, Art asked him if they were going to nickname Eric Wedge "Wedgie," following in a long line of silly nicknames used on the Mariner broadcasts (i.e. "Ichi" for Ichiro Suzuki or "Guti" for Franklin Gutierrez).
Art said Dave got a quick flash of a smile and then turned to what Art called "his grumpy, curmudgeonly self" and said: "I'm never going to do that crap. I never have and I never will!" Art said it reinforced the feeling he always had about Dave Niehaus - that he had standards and he never wavered.