Dave Niehaus, who has been the voice of the Seattle Mariners throughout the American League baseball team's 31-year history, will be inducted into the broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Niehaus was chosen as the 2008 winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence. He will be honored during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony July 27, at Cooperstown, N.Y. The announcement Tuesday came on Niehaus' 73rd birthday.
"Dave Niehaus is the heartbeat of Mariners baseball. Since Day One, he has painted a picture of baseball and summer in Seattle better than anyone ever has," Dale Petroskey, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a news release.
"It doesn't hit you really until they say you've won the award," Niehaus said. "It's the most humbling experience, without a doubt, I've had in my life. It's the biggest thrill in my life. For us in the broadcasting business, it's our Oscar."
Niehaus worked with the California Angels from 1969-1976 and joined the expansion Mariners in 1977. He was inducted in 2000 into the Mariners' Hall of Fame. He has broadcast all but 82 of the Mariners' 4,899 games played.
Niehaus is known for his signature calls "My, oh my" for big plays, and "It will fly away" for home runs.
Niehaus said he received more then 60 congratulatory phone calls Tuesday. One of the first was from former Mariners centerfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., now with Cincinnati.
"I told Junior, 'I'm glad I beat you into the Hall of Fame,' " Niehaus said. "His call meant a lot to me."
Niehaus grew up in Princeton, Ind. He said on summer nights he'd sit on his front porch listening to Cardinals or Reds broadcasts and, at times, Cubs and White Sox. He grew on such illustrious broadcast voices as Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola and Waite Hoyt. All but Hoyt are among the 31 previous winners of the Frick award.
"My first emotion was, do I really belong in there with all these people? You see the names and it's really intimating," Niehaus said.
Mariners' manager John McLaren said Niehaus' selection is long overdue.
"My oh my, what a great, exciting day for the city of Seattle, the Seattle Mariners and for the man himself," McLaren said from the team's spring training camp in Peoria, Ariz. "I'm so happy. I just can't tell you what it makes me feel like. It's made my day."
"It seems like yesterday that I did the opener," Niehaus said of his first Mariners' game. "That was my favorite game, the first game played here, to be able to reintroduce baseball here in the Pacific Northwest."
He said that perhaps his favorite broadcast moment was Game Five of the American League Division series against New York in 1995. That ended with Griffey being waved home on a game-winning double by Edgar Martinez.
The annual Frick Award is named in memory of the sportswriter, radio broadcaster, National League president and baseball commissioner.
Mariners' broadcaster Niehaus headed to Hall