Friday, August 15, 2008

Our Trip To Cooperstown--My Oh My! Part 1

Its funny. Six years ago I would have been the last person you would have seen in Cooperstown, New York, visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I would have laughed at you if you had told me that one day I would end up there and would spend hours walking around and looking at baseball's past and present as it is captured within the walls of the Hall. I would have told you that you were crazy if you had told me that I would spend hours standing on a street waiting to catch a glimpse of the stars that have made the game of baseball what it is today. If you had told me I would attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and have a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and goosebumps from head to toe as they introduced the 56 living Hall of Famers I would have shook my head in disbelief. If you had told me that when they announced Hank Aaron and Willie Mays back to back that as they walked upon the stage I would have been moved to my feet and joined the thousands in thunderous applause for two of the greatest to ever play the game I would have told you to get your head checked. Me, love baseball and all it means? Not a chance. But you know, just when you think you have it all figured out, you find a passion for something you never imagined could exist.

You would think Chris would be the one to blame for this love and passion I have for the game of baseball and the Seattle Mariners. But all the credit goes to my mother in law Linda. When I spent weekend at their house when Chris and I were first dating it seemed all they watched was baseball all weekend long. Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. At first I fought it. I swore up and down I would never watch such a boring excuse for a sport. Being Canadian and a passionate hockey fan the thought of watching baseball was nauseating. But slowly I got sucked in. I would sit with Linda and watch the games and before too long I was asking questions, and I was learning the players names and positions. I don't think we will ever forget the day I tried to say the name of the player who became my favorite Mariner. RP pitcher #17 Shigetoshi Hasegawa. I tried and tried but over and over his name came out in all sorts of odd sounds. We laughed and laughed. Shigersnooki Hashegowi. But I learned his name and with each game I was eager to learn more about different things. What a bunt was, what a double play was, what a ground rule double was. Before long I found myself fascinated with the pitchers and how complicated the art of pitching really is. The different grips, release points, the pitches. I couldn't get enough.

My mother in law may have introduced me to baseball and planted the seeds that would turn my into the baseball fan I am today. But it is Dave Niehaus that made baseball real to me. Night after night it was Dave who made me feel like I was at the ballpark sitting in the front row. It is Dave who gives me goosebumps when he utters the words he is so well known for. None better than his grand slam call--"Get out the rye bread and mustard Grandma it is grand salami time!"
There is nothing like it when a ball is crushed out of the ball park and Dave makes you feel as though you are right there--"that ball is belted to deep right field and that ball is going to Fly Away, My oh My!"

Click HERE and HERE for 2 classic Niehaus calls. The first probably being the greatest one in Mariners history. There is nothing like it. And even though I was not a Mariners fan back in 1995, listening to that gives me goosebumps every single time.

Dave Niehaus for those of you reading this and don't know who Dave is, he is the play by play announcer for the Seattle Mariners and has been since their inaugural game in back in 1977. In 32 years Dave has missed only 82 games. Quite the feat considering baseball has 162 game seasons. Through all the bad times in Seattle Dave has always been the constant. Game after game he has always been there. What makes Dave so special is how much he truly loves the game of baseball. He has a passion for the game that is heard in every word he speaks. If a broadcaster does not have a passion and love for the game he is calling then there is no substance to his words. They are merely that, words. With Dave you know it is more than a job to him. He has been living his dream for 32 years calling a game that he is passionate about and a baseball team he truly loves. Being able to be there and see Dave receive the Ford C Frick award and honored by the Hall of Fame was truly a special experience for me, one I won't soon forget. Dave is an honorable and gracious man who deserves all recognition in this world for what he does day in and out. At the end of Dave's speech he said--

" I know there are several bigger names who have preceded me in winning this award. There will be several bigger names after me to win this award, but no one will ever be more appreciative."

Dave is right that no one will ever be more appreciative but in my opinion he is the greatest there is. His name is much bigger and much more important to baseball and the Seattle Mariners that I think he realizes. Living in a city where people seem to move to and immediately desert the team the grew up cheering for just to cheer for the Boston Red Sox makes me sick. There is no loyalty in that and I think it's sad. Dave said it best when he said--

"Millions of fans from the northwest stand here with me today. Believe me, without them, I wouldn't be here today. Over the years, they have been my biggest supporters and they've been loyal to the Mariners through thick and thin, and there was never a doubt in my mind about Seattle being big league territory from the first pitch Diego Segui threw to Jerry Remy 32 years ago, it's been quite a ride and it's not over yet. Believe me, the best is yet to come."

Win or lose my heart is in Seattle with the Mariners. You will never see me cheering for another baseball team with the passion I have for Seattle. I thank Dave Niehaus for that. And he is right, the BEST is yet to come. And when that time comes it will be worth every moment of heartache. It will be worth every loss and it will be worth every season the Mariners have let Seattle down. My only wish is that Dave Niehaus will be around for that, I wouldn't want to hear anyone but him calling the final play in a Seattle Mariners World Series clinching game.

Dave Niehaus will forever be in the hearts of Mariners fans. Long after he has retired from baseball he will be in our hearts and he will always be the greatest there is in my eyes.

Congrats Dave, and thank you for sharing you love and passion for baseball with all of us. My oh My!


Linda MacTravel said...

Now THAT is a post worth waiting for! Great writing, Evey...I feel as though I was right there with you! And, I humbly accept the credit for initiating and fostering your love and understanding of the greatest game!! You have been a great student! After this season, yes...the best IS yet to come!!! PLAY BALL!!!

Linda MacTravel said...

OR, if you would rather cast BLAME, I am also willing to take that on ;-) You should also be so fortunate and blessed to be married to the one person who can (and does) daily nurture your love & appreciation for ALL sports!!

Bryan said...

I think it becomes part of you when you marry into this family. I even come home to Andrea watching the game, though she won't admit it.

I say, "Watching the game, eh?"

She says, "I put it on for the boys" or, "there's nothing else on."

Meanwhile, the boys have no idea it's on, no idea I'm home, and couldn't be distracted from Legos if the house was on fire.

Right... for the boys.

Gianni said...

Hey! Nice Niehaus post! I went to the Niehaus ceremony game on Sunday, whatever the date was, and saw Niehaus make the speech, and they put the "MY OH MY" on the base paths. I'm sending a little something your way, hope you like. Just remember, ignore the apple juice bottle, it's just filler in the package.

John O.