Niehaus among finalists for Frick Award
Iconic voice one of 10 vying for broadcasting honor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If there is such a thing as the fifth time being the charm, longtime Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus soon could be on his way to Cooperstown, N.Y.
Niehaus, the "voice of the Mariners" since the organization's inception more than 30 years ago, has been selected as one of the 10 finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually since 1978 for excellence in baseball broadcasting.
It's the fifth consecutive year, Niehaus is among the finalists.
The Frick Award -- named in memory of Hall of Famer Ford C. Frick, a sportswriter, radio broadcaster, National League president and Major League Baseball Commissioner -- is given to an active or retired broadcaster who has a minimum of 10 years continuous Major League broadcast service with a team, network or a combination of the two.
Joining Niehaus on the ballot this year are: Joe Nuxhall, Bill King, Joe Morgan, Dizzy Dean, Tom Cheek, Tony Kubek, Dave Van Horne, Graham McNamee and Ken Coleman. Nuxhall, King and Morgan were selected via online voting at baseballhall.org and MLB.com throughout November. The other seven were chosen by the Frick nominating committee.
The winner will be announced on February 19 and inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 29. The 2007 recipient was longtime Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews.
Mike Blowers has been on the same field with some future Hall of Fame players, and they all stood out. And after one year in the Mariners broadcast booth as a television analyst, Blowers believes that Niehaus is overdue for the ultimate broadcasting honor.
"I don't think there is any doubt about it," Blowers said. "It will happen, and I'm hoping it will happen this year."
Niehaus has been the Mariners' play-by-play announcer since the franchise started in 1977. He also spent seven seasons (1969-76) with the Angels. He has missed only 79 of the club's 5,000-plus games.
"It's the Oscar for anyone in my business," Niehaus said of the award. "It would be the ultimate award. ... It would be something I would look forward to. When I didn't get it, I guess you could say I was disappointed. But I never thought I would win it anyway."
Blowers, a former University of Washington star, had three tours of duty as a player for the Mariners -- 1992-95, '97 and '99. He co-hosted a postgame radio show during a four-year period before joining the broadcast team last season.
"Dave is absolutely the best," Blowers said. "For someone like me to come in without any [television] training whatsoever, and to have him there in the booth to help me, I couldn't ask for anything more. I learned a lot just by watching him, how effortless it is for him. Talking about the game comes so natural to him."
Niehaus began his career working for the Armed Forces radio and TV service, calling the action of Dodgers games before moving to New York to handle Yankees baseball. From 1969-76, he teamed with Dick Enberg and Don Drysdale with the Angels. He was selected Sportscaster of the Year for the state of Washington in 1995 and 1996 by his contemporaries in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Inaugural Game at Safeco Field on July 15, 1999.
Niehaus was named as one of the Seattle Times' top 10 most influential people of the century and named the Entertainer of the Century by a local radio station. In 1997 he was honored by the Washington State House of Representatives for his "contributions to the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest." His expressions like "My Oh My" and "It will fly away" (for home runs) have become familiar throughout the Northwest. He was inducted into the Mariners' Hall of Fame in 2000, joining Alvin Davis and Jay Buhner as the only three members of the club's Hall of Fame.