Dave Niehaus’ partner in crime, Rick Rizzs, delivered an emotionally charged speech to open Saturday’s Celebration of Life at Safeco Field. The longtime Mariners’ broadcaster mixed stories of Niehaus in with highlights of the Hall of Famer’s career, voice cracking with emotion the whole time.
In a heart-wrenching moment, Rizzs broke down midway through his speech, pausing to compose himself for several minutes. Amid a standing ovation from the crowd as encouraging, Rizzs worked to gather himself, overcome with sadness at the loss of his friend. Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez and Dan Wilson made their way to the podium, with Buhner embracing Rizz in a bear-hug while encouraging him to continue.
“Dave was a great teacher and I was lucky” he said as his voice trailed off. “Tom Hanks was wrong … There’s no crying in baseball. Yeah, there is.”
When Rizzs was able to finish, he used humor to describe Dave and his habits in the booth. And that unmistakable grand slam call? It led to free meals and unintended, but delicious consequences.
“We were expecting a homerun call and we got a sandwich from grandma. A salami sandwich.” said Rizzs. “Fans were sending down sticks of salami on strings and sandwiches from the 300 level. Hold the mayo, please.”
But the finest call Dave ever made had nothing to do with baseball, according to Rizzs. Niehaus’ best decision, his best call, was marrying his wife, Marilyn.
His wife was the best one of his life. Marilyn thank you for sharing your husband. I love you." Rizzs said to cap his speech. “Thank you for sharing Dave with all of us for all of these years.”