ARLINGTON -- Dave Niehaus returned to the real world on Monday morning. Only hours after being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., the longtime voice of the Mariners was standing in a long security line at Albany International Airport for an early morning flight to Dallas. "Apparently, there was some bad weather [on Sunday] and a lot of flights were canceled," he said. "Everyone must have been going out this morning, because the lines at the airport were unbelievably long."
Just like the rest of us, there was no line-cutting. Not even for a Hall of Famer. Almost five hours after landing deep in the heart of Texas, the 73-year-old was in the visiting radio booth at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, preparing to broadcast another regular-season game with the Mariners. Wearing a bright pink polo shirt, he said, "I am really tired, really tired. The alarm went off a 4 this morning and mom (wife, Marilyn) said, 'Time to wake up and go to work.' That's when my dream ended. I got up, took a quick shower, went downstairs and took a cab to the airport." He arrived at the team's hotel headquarters in plenty of time to take a quick nap, but that was not part of his day-after routine. "I'm still running on adrenaline," he said. "I'll probably collapse tonight." Well after the series opener against the Rangers has ended, of course. Niehaus called his four days in Cooperstown, "Truly a fantasy world. It was 10 times more than I thought it was going to be. It such a riveting time, all weekend." He will remember the HOF induction weekend for as long as he lives. There were more living Hall of Famers there than at any time in history, and they welcomed Niehaus with open arms. "They were all so nice to me," he said. "I sat down after my speech and Sandy Koufax tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Great job, David,' and 'congratulations.'" Niehaus, who grew up listing to Cardinals games on the family's Zenith radio, hoped former Cardinals great Stan Musial would be among the Hall of Famers in attendance. Stan the Man was unable to make the trip from his home in St. Louis, however. There was another sad moment, as well. While walking down Main Street one day, Niehaus heard a "barker" yelling out that Pete Rose was inside and signing autographs for $65 apiece. "I walked in and there he was, but nobody else was in the room," Niehaus said. "That was a real poignant moment for me. I thought how ironic it was that the Hall of Fame was about 200 yards away from where he was sitting." So close, yet so far away.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.