Rick Rizzs takes us back to his first opening day as Mariners’ sportscaster

Mar 29, 2018, 10:34 AM | Updated: 10:37 am
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The Mariners open their season tonight at home against the Cleveland Indians. (AP)
LISTEN: Rick Rizzs tells us how to take in Mariners opening night

It’s finally here: The Mariners officially open their regular season with a home game against the Cleveland Indians tonight.

Opening night has always carried extra meaning for fans and players alike. Longtime Mariners sportscaster Rick Rizzs joined Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle to talk about his first opening day as a sportscaster – and how to take in opening day at Safeco Field tonight.

Rizzs’ first time voicing an opening day game in the big leagues came in 1983, when the Mariners took on the Yankees at the Kingdome.

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“I’ll never forget just sitting alongside Dave [Niehaus], and listening to that voice I go, ‘Wow, I’m really into the big leagues, this guy’s amazing.’ And in the third inning, Richie Zisk hit a homerun and I had a chance to call it, it was my inning. And Dave said, ‘Hey, you called the first homerun of the year,’ and I go, ‘Oh man, that was pretty cool.’

“And the Mariners won the ballgame, 5-4, against the Yankees. And I thought they were going to win every game that year – they were going to go to the World Series. As it turned out, they ended up losing 102 games. But it was still one of the greatest years of my life. It was the first year in the big leagues, sitting alongside Dave. And I’ll never forget opening day in 1983. That was a beauty.”

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Which player is Rizzs most looking forward to talking about this year?

“Dee Gordon,” Rizzs said. “Dee Gordon was a tremendous acquisition by [general manager] Jerry Dipoto during the offseason. Here’s a guy, when Jerry made the phone call and said, ‘Dee, we’re trading for ya,’ here’s an All Star and Gold Glove second baseman, [and he said] ‘You’re going to go out there and play centerfield,’ he probably went, ‘What?’

“And the transition was as smooth as it could possibly have been out there in centerfield this spring. But he is so electric, so much fun to watch. That incredible speed that we saw in Ichiro when he first got here in 2001. When he hits the ball on the ground, this guy has a chance to be safe. A ball in the gap, forget about the double – he’s got a shot for the triple. He’s going to be electric up there in the top of the order.”

When it comes to taking in opening night, Rizzs has a bit of advice for Mariners fans:

“Take in the sights and sounds and the little hairs on the back of your neck are going to stand up. And that’s what I suggest to the dads and moms who bring their sons and daughters to the ballgame. Enjoy the entire experience of the ballpark and the baseball game. Enjoy the excitement of opening night: the red and white bunting, the red carpet treatment, the fireworks, and all the joy that Game One brings. Every team in baseball has a chance to win the World Series today. So that’s what I would suggest… enjoy the game, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the most beautiful ballpark in the game of baseball. And take it all in. Take a mental snapshot of that, because I still have mine… I still remember how green that grass was.”

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Rick Rizzs takes us back to his first opening day as Mariners’ sportscaster