A year and a half after Dave Niehaus and the Mariners made their Seattle debut, legendary Post-Intelligencer sportswriter Royal Brougham had a heart attack in the Kingdome press box while covering the Seahawks’ pending loss to the Denver Broncos. He died the next day, Oct. 30, 1978. On April 6, 1979, the second day of the Mariners’ third season, the city honored Brougham by changing the name of S. Connecticut Street to S. Royal Brougham Way.
The Mariners’ 35th season home opener — their first without Niehaus — is next April 8. Would it not be fitting to have Mayor Mike McGinn sign an ordinance that day renaming the stretch of 1st Avenue S. between Royal Brougham Way and Edgar Martinez Drive after the late voice of the team?
Yes, there are those calling for the renaming of Safeco Field itself. But this is an economy in which the Chicago Transit Authority is considering selling the names of its stations, lines, and bus routes, and Seattle may have to consider doing something similar. Safeco Field will undoubtedly experience a name change before the Mariners turn 40, but as much as I’d like to see a Niehaus Field, I don’t think I ever will.
And yes, the day Ken Griffey Jr. retired last June, Glen Garnett started a campaign to rename First Avenue S. after the slugger. Though his original idea was for a Way, apparently Junior prefers a Drive, like Edgar.
But as much as we loved Ken Griffey, I’d submit we loved Dave Niehaus more. As Feliks Banel writes, he was “much more than simply a ‘sports icon,’ ” bringing us together in a way that I fear will be increasingly rare as audiences continue to fragment.
If we have to, we can give Griffey Fourth Avenue. But just picture this new address for Safeco Field: 1250 Dave Niehaus Way S. My, oh my!