It’s the saddest day to be a Mariner

We lost a family member today with the death of Mariners broadcast legend Dave Niehaus.

Since the first season opener in 1977, you could count on Dave being in your living room, your car, your office. He was there game after game after game (only in recent years did he take a short midseason break) because he loved baseball like nothing else outside his wife, children and grandchildren.

Dave also did it because he knew how importat it was to paint a verbal picture of the sights, sounds and smells of the ballpark for those who didn’t have the means to get there.

Dave and I talked more than a few times over the years about the purpose of baseball and how it extends beyond the quest to win a ring. He knew there are people in hospitals and nursing homes who, just maybe, he could help by bringing three hours of relief from their problems and illnesses. He didn’t take that responsibility lightly.

I spoke with Jay Buhner earlier this evening, and he spoke through his own tears about what Dave Niehaus has meant to him and an entire region of Mariners fans.

“There is not enough you can write that can do justice for what Dave Niehaus means — to this city, to the Mariners, to baseball and to me personally,” Buhner said. “We lost one of the most beloved guys ever. It’s a rough day to say the least.”

Former Mariners closer J.J. Putz was stunned to hear the news.

“I used to love it when he called me the Big Guy,” Putz said. “There’s a reason he’s in the Hall of Fame. He is one of those rare broadcasters who you don’t have to see to know who you’re listening to, he has such a distinctive voice. He’s one of the best.”

We’ll write more about Dave in the coming hours, days and weeks. For now, I wanted to get these quick thoughts up and then move on to the coverage that appears online and in the print edition of The Herald.

Here is our early story on the loss of Dave Niehaus.

As Buhner said, nothing can describe what everyone connected with the Mariners — the players, ex-players, team employees and fans — lost today.

Dave touched them all.

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