Today the recipient of the Ford Frick Award was announced, and it was none other than Dave Niehaus. The award itself is prestigious, but the biggest perk of winning is enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Niehaus had been a finalist for the Frick award for the past several years.
It seemed clear that Niehaus was getting closer and closer to winning the Frick award, and to a certain extent it seemed inevitable that he would get it and be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It also seemed likely that he would win the Frick award before any Mariner player would be enshrined in Cooperstown. However, even though in many ways this moment had been coming for years, it does not take away from the magnitude of this achievement. For Niehaus, there may be no greater honor. This award asserts him as a broadcaster for the ages, preserving his legacy at a level beyond the Pacific Northwest.
This is a big deal for the Mariners too. Sure, Gaylord Perry got his 300th win with the Mariners and is in the Hall of Fame, but he was more of a passer-by in franchise history. Dave Niehaus is not. He started with the Angels, but developed into a Frick award-winner as a Mariner. He has been with the franchise from the start. As important as Martinez, Griffey, Buhner, Johnson, Wilson, Moyer, and others have been to this franchise, Niehaus was here before all of them, and is still around now that they are all gone (though I hope Griffey comes back some day). Dave Niehaus is a Mariner and always will be. Truly, having a bona fide Mariner in the Hall of Fame is a major step forward in Mariners' history. It may not show up on the field, but there is a certain level of status that cannot be achieved without someone in the Hall of Fame.
Even though this day has been coming for years, it is still so sweet. As great as a number of the '90s Mariners were, I would not have wanted anybody but Dave Niehaus to be the first Mariner inducted into the Hall of Fame. With signature calls like "My oh my!" he was the first to give this franchise an identity. He has watched all the lows and celebrated all the highs, delivering them to the fans day in and day out in only the way that he can. He was one of the first two members of the Mariners hall of fame, he threw out the first pitch in Safeco Field history, and now he is the first Mariner hall of famer. This is a great honor for a great man that has given so much to the Mariners and the Pacific Northwest. I don't know what else to say besides my oh my. His impending induction speech this summer will be one of the greatest moments in Mariners history.