Mariners’ Sam Haggerty gave Rick Rizzs greatest gift for an announcer

Jul 15, 2022, 1:31 PM

Mariners Sam Haggerty...

Sam Haggerty rounds third base on his inside-the-park home Thursday. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Rick Rizzs, the voice of the Seattle Mariners, was already a big fan of Sam Haggerty before Thursday night.

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The two share Italian heritage, so perhaps nobody appreciates Haggerty’s choice of the theme music from “The Godfather” for his walk-up music at T-Mobile Park more than Rizzs.

“On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love Sam Haggerty?” Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk asked Rizzs on Friday.

“Uh, 15? Twenty?” responded Rizzs.

Salk: “And how much of it is due to the Godfather walk-up music?”

Rizzs: “I love it! That’s maybe No. 1. … I’ve said many times ‘I love this, but it’s not exactly a toe-tapper that most guys have walking up to home plate.’ But it fits him. It makes him happy as he gets ready for an at-bat.”

On Thursday night, though, Rizzs’ appreciation for Haggerty went through the roof. That’s because Haggerty gave Rizzs the greatest gift a baseball play-by-play announcer can get: an inside-the-park home run to call.

Listen to Rizzs’ exciting call of Haggerty’s homer in the podcast at this link

As Salk suspected, Rizzs confirmed that an inside-the-park home run is the best thing to announce in all of baseball. And this one was a long time coming, as the Mariners’ last inside-the-parker was 15 years ago.

“Yeah, no doubt about it,” Rizzs said when asked if it was the best play to call. “Because, you know, it’s the finish of the Kentucky Derby. … It’s just exciting because so many things are going on at one time and it doesn’t happen very often. Last time it happened (for the Mariners) obviously was a long time ago, 2007 with Willie Bloomquist. Everything just has to go right.

“… Home runs are exciting – ‘swing and a fly ball, it’s gone’ – but you know, you just keep going to second and then the drama builds up (on an inside-the-park homer). Where’s the ball? Where’s the outfielder? ‘The throw in, he’s getting to third and he’s being waved in by Manny Acta.’ How close is this to the plate? ‘Here comes the throw, the catcher’s getting ready.’ And all of a sudden, that drama just builds up to the moment where, you know, ‘Haggerty slides in headfirst and scores.’ And it’s just something that doesn’t happen very often, and with all the excitement going on, it’s one of the greatest calls you could possibly have.”

Haggerty’s homer was the first spark that lit an incredible comeback by the Mariners, who stormed back from four runs downs to beat the Rangers 6-5 for their 11th straight win, their longest winning streak in 20 years. It was just the latest case of Haggerty being a valuable – if unsung – member of the team.

“He’s had a great impact the short time he’s been with the ball club,” Rizzs said. “… He’s not the biggest guy on the team. He’s probably one of the fastest guys on the team, but all he does is help you find out how to win a ballgame by his hustle, his grit, putting the bat on the ball, his defense – he’s made some really nice catches in the outfield. You need the Sam Haggertys of the world to have a successful baseball season.”

Rizzs is the lead announcer on broadcasts for the Mariners Radio Network, which Seattle Sports is the flagship station of. Catch him on the call when the Mariners continue their series in Texas at 5:05 p.m. Friday (coverage starts with the pregame show at 4), and listen to the full conversation with Rizzs from Friday’s edition of The Mike Salk Show in the podcast below.

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Mariners’ Sam Haggerty gave Rick Rizzs greatest gift for an announcer