A day of remembrance…

That hole in my baseball soul was patched a wee bit today…

The Seattle Mariners and the Niehaus family held an Open House at Safeco Field this afternoon.  It was a chance for fans to come reflect and remember this very special man who was so rightly revered.

I got there about 11:40am…
The gates were due to open at noon and before getting in line, I spent some time at the home plate gate admiring all the candles, flowers, signs and various mementos fans had left in tribute to Dave.

The remembrances started pouring in on the day he died

I walked to the end of the line…
from the corner of 1st Avenue and Edgar Martinez Way to nearly the end of the block at Royal Brougham.  As I waited for the line to begin moving, I turned on my walkman (same one I’ve had since 1995) and inserted my ear buds just in time to hear the first pitch of the “My Oh My” tribute – a re-broadcast of Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS game vs the Yankees.  Indeed a special backdrop for my remembrance visit.

banner above the stairs at the Home Plate entrance
The family gathering to view the tribute table
Look! Grandma left out the rye bread and the mustard for the grand salami

First I just tried to soak it all in….
There was subdued music playing on the sound system throughout the ball park interspersed with some of Dave’s signature calls and snippets of his Hall of Fame speech.

the big screen displayed photos spanning Dave’s career
the out-of-town scoreboard rotated quotations about Dave

A nice touch, that Angel fans would appreciate, was the hand operated scoreboard set up to reflect a game between the Seattle Mariners and the California Angels.

The two teams Dave called games for

But the very best and most poignant display was revealed as I turned and looked toward the broadcast booth.  It was dark, save for a single lamp shining on a microphone casting a shadow on the jersey hanging above it.

#77 – Niehaus

Before getting in line, I had a salami sandwich, on rye, with plenty of mustard. Never was such a small, simple meal more satisfying to the taste buds or soothing to the psyche.

with yellow or dijon?

At about 1pm, I got in line to view the tribute table set up behind home plate…
At that time, the end of the line was near the Left Field Gates (more than half way round the main concourse).  Game 5 was still playing in my ears (about the 5th inning at that point) and I was taking photos and posting them to facebook as the line crept along.

only about half the line…

At about the 90 minute mark, I stopped to sign the memory book…
and realized my penmanship wasn’t going to be the best.  But, while my fingers and toes were numb from the cold, my heart was warmed from the waves of people that continued to file in as the afternoon wore on.

pages and pages of remembrances and reverence

Some of the display, that need no description, as the line approached the stairs…

At about the 2 hour mark, I started to descend the stairs down to the field….  
Game 5 was now in extra innings.  Once at field level, I snapped some more photos.

Not everyday you get to actually walk on the field
Still a lot of fans behind me
More rye bread, mustard and salami above the dugout
The jersey in the booth
The fans ahead of me
another view of the sandwich makin’s

Finally, around 3:40pm, I reached the area behind home plate…
and, rather eerily, the re-broadcast of Game 5 had just ended.

smelled wonderful
Bringing us joy brought him joy
the microphone 
the whole tribute table
Inaugural game scorecard 
More memorabilia from the HoF’er 
As we remember him at the opening of Safeco Field

The first greeter after the tribute table was none other than Rick Rizzs….
I shook his hand and mentioned, motioning to the earbuds around my neck, that Game 5 had just ended.  He smiled and said, “Did we win?  Let me guess, Joey reached on a drag bunt, Junior singled and Edgar hit a double down the left field line to win it … in the 11th inning.”  I said, “You got it.  And, Joey also hit a homer earlier and Dan made a couple of nice plays, but didn’t play the whole game.” He said, “That’s right, Chris Widger was in there and Randy pitched in relief.”

I also shook Dave’s daughter Greta’s hand and thanked her for sharing her father with all of us.

After that, I continued to take in the scene and, even though I was freezing, I didn’t want to leave.

Thank you to the Seattle Mariners and the Niehaus family for recognizing how much the fans needed to reflect and remember and for executing the event with such class and attention to detail.  It is SO appreciated.

Here’s the text of my note in the memory book…

Dear Dave~
Your passing has left a hole in my baseball soul.  But, I shall cherish this tattered soul because if it weren’t for you, it wouldn’t exist at all.  Thank you for doubling and tripling our joy of Mariner Baseball and making the less than joyful moments bearable.  You will be missed more than you will ever know but, your spirit will be ever present with every pitch, every swing and every play for as long as the Seattle Mariners live.
~Lisa Gilmore (aka CompassRosy)

Oh, and took a little self-portrait with the man of honor on my way out…

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Niehaus.
Mariner Baseball will never be the same without you.

(no photo credits needed, as you can probably tell from the less than stellar quality, the photos were taken by me – via my little Nikon or my PalmPrePlus)

12 thoughts on “A day of remembrance…

  1. DaddyO here, Lisa.

    What more can be said than “thanks” for sharing your journey through Safeco Field tribute to Dave Niehaus. For all my criticism of ownership, something like this they always do well, with great class, dignity, and thoughtfulness. Kudos to the M's.

  2. There are tears all over the world in regards to the wonderful memories that man gave us.

    There are bittersweet tears on the faces of the individuals living in a small, cramped apartment in Northern California.

    We will miss you, Dave.


    Joe and Karen Largé – Mariners FOREVER!

  3. Thank you Rosie for sharing your thoughts and photo. Those of us who are far away could weep as if we were there.


  4. All~
    Thanks so much for commenting (don't be strangers 😉

    Attending the remembrance yesterday and documenting it here was truly a labor of love. Dave will be missed SO much by SO many and deserves every tribute we can bestow upon him.

    I'm hoping we can start by re-naming Safeco Field to …
    Niehaus Field 🙂

  5. I'm on board with the renaming of Safeco, for sure! Thanks for the pics and sharing your experience.

    We listened to the game on Saturday, and between the memories of that wonderful time and hearing Dave's voice, I couldn't believe that we'd be getting goose bumps all afternoon.

  6. Brilliant. 🙂
    I must have walked past you at least once without knowing it. There were so many people there, and I only saw a handful of folks that I actually knew, though I'm sure there were more. I couldn't wait in line, but I'm glad I got to be there, if only for a little while.

  7. Thanks, Megan.
    I too am SO glad I went. While many have done their best to capture the day in words and photos … it was so special to just BE there.

    Not sure how we'll get through Opening Day when it comes … I trust that the organization will do what's good and right and proper to honor Dave in some permanent fashion – no doubt much tissue will be required ;-(

  8. Wow, Lisa — This is fantastic! You have such a lovely gift for writing, taking photos and capturing the heart of things. Wish I could have been there with you. Love, Marilyn

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