Cherished memories bring heartfelt tears, comforting laughter

A Celebration of the Life of Dave Niehaus
(from the printed program)
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am an echo in home run calls.
I am the flash of white on a well struck ball.
I am the sunlight on the outfield grass.
I am the powerful autumn home run blast.
When you jump up to a called steeerike three
I am there, yes you know me.
I am the sound of the broom after a three game weep
Swung on and belted; I am the tears on your cheek.
Rye bread and mustard, salami abound
I am high above looking down.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. “My Oh My”

Rick couldn’t quite make it through his initial tribute speech …
He started to breakdown but, was able to regain his composure with “a little help from his friends” (Jay, Danny, Red and Gar stepped up on stage to show their support) and then proclaim, “Tom Hanks was wrong.” (eluding to the fact that there IS crying in baseball).


Ron, Dan, Jay and Edgar each shared their favorite funny stories and fond memories of Dave.

Dave’s daughter Greta and son Andy spoke eloquently about their dad…
Both gave heartfelt tributes with glowing examples of how their father was just as kind and giving in his  family life as in his professional life – as fabulous a husband, father and grandfather as he was a broadcaster and baseball fan.  He lived life to the fullest and enjoyed every moment spent with his family and on his job.

Dave often said, “I’ve never worked a day in my life.”…
referring to the fact that he didn’t think of his job as work, but truly felt it as a passion.  He shared that passion to with all who would listen.

And listen they did…
Marlaina Lieberg, a representative for the Washington Council of the Blind also spoke, describing how Dave was able to bring the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the game of baseball to the blind.

Chuck Armstrong was the last speaker and he shared some of his memories of Dave as well as made the announcement of the following tributes…

  • commemorative patch worn on the 2011 Mariners uniforms
  • Dave’s microphone and scorebook will be on display
  • the first ever Mariner statue will be of Dave

This was my favorite photo of the day, snapped via my phone …

Apparently, respect and admiration for Dave knows no bounds of fandom.
These two were seated together for the entire ceremony.

Dave ~
You would have been so proud of your family and the grace with which they expressed their sorrow and love.  You would have been touched with the gamut of emotions that the stories the speakers shared invoked (we needed to cry, but you would want us to laugh – we did both).  You would have been pleased with the ways in which your employer chose to remember and revere you.

We are eager to see the statue that will be erected in your honor, but we are dreading the emptiness we will feel the first time we listen to a Mariners game without hearing your voice.

R.I.P. Mr. Niehaus

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)