Fans brought flowers, balloons and Grand Salami sandwich fixings to the Dave Niehaus Memorial.
There was enough rye bread, mustard and salami to open a Subway at Saturday's memorial for the Seattle Mariners broadcasting legend Dave Niehaus, who died Wednesday at his home in Bellevue at the age of 75.
More than 3,600 people showed up at Safeco on a gloomy Saturday and I was one of them. I'm married to a hardcore Mariners fan, a guy who's been a supporter through good times and bad -- like this last season. So, through osmosis, I got sucked in, too. It was actually listening to Dave Niehaus on the radio that played a major part in getting me hooked on baseball. He made the game fun and entertaining, especially when an M swung and belted the ball deep with the bases loaded and Dave hollered: "Get out the mustard and the rye bread Grandma! It's Grand Salami Time!"
Photo by Paul Joseph Brown
Seattle Mariners broadcasting legend Dave Niehaus, me, Armandino Batali and Brian D'Amato at Salumi in 2008.
When Dave was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 and I was writing for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, I cooked up a scheme. I asked Gina Batali at Salumi if she would be willing to create a Grand Salami sandwich and she didn't skip a beat before saying heck yes. Then, I arranged for Dave to meet me at the famous cured meat palace in Pioneer Square.
What surprised me was that he arrived without a posse, just walked right up like he was a regular Joe. When we got to jump the line and take a seat at the big table Gina had set with mustard and rye bread, he got as excited as when Junior would step to the plate. "This must be good if you've got a line out the door," he said.
As we ate lunch, fans approached and he was gracious. And humble. I think that's what made him such a big hit. He told me the story of how he had come up with the iconic call and it was as memorable an interview as I've had in my career.
At Safeco on Saturday, among other Niehaus admirers, I signed the memorial book and got a big lump in my throat when looking up in the broadcast booth where the No. 77 jersey hung, bathed in a bright white light. It was kind of eerie, really.
It goes without saying that Seattle Mariners baseball will never be the same without our Voice of Summer. I'd like to suggest, though, so we never forget Dave Niehaus that the M's get busy and come up with a Grand Salami for next season's opening lineup at the concessions stands.