Former Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly, legendary MLB figure, dead at 81

Oct 30, 2019, 12:17 PM | Updated: 10:37 pm
Former Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly...
Ron Fairly, who spent 14 years on Mariners broadcasts, has died at 81 years old. (Mariners photo)
(Mariners photo)

Ron Fairly, a two-time MLB All-Star who spent 14 years as a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners, has died at the age of 81.

The Mariners announced Fairly’s death late Wednesday morning.

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“Ron was a key voice in our history,” Mariners President and CEO Kevin Mather said in a press release. “He joined our team at the start of an important era of Seattle baseball, beginning the same year as Lou Piniella and bringing over a decade of exciting baseball to our fans on TV and radio. Our thoughts are with his three sons: Mike, Steve and Patrick; and his grandchildren.”

Fairly was a member of a memorable Mariners broadcast team on both the radio and television for 14 years, usually being paired with either Hall of Fame play-by-play man Dave Niehaus or longtime voice of the Mariners Rick Rizzs during a period that to date is the most successful in franchise history.

“Ron was not only a great broadcaster, he was a great friend,” Rizzs said in the press release. “He loved the game of baseball and everyone in it, and it showed. He was one of the best storytellers I’ve ever been around. … Dave, Ron and I spent a lot of hours together traveling, dining and calling baseball games and Ron’s passion for the game, his love of his family and his loyalty to his friends always stood out to me.”

Fairly’s regular role was as a color commentator, something he was adept at thanks to his 21-year career as an MLB player, but he also would do play-by-play at times. That’s where his most memorable call came from, as he provided the soundtrack to Ken Griffey Jr.’s record-tying home run in an eighth straight game with a memorable “See you later!” that can still be heard at the end of Mariners radio broadcasts.

Fairly was born in Macon, Ga., raised in southern California and was an All-American in college at USC. He finished his professional baseball career with a lifetime average of .266, 215 home runs and 1,044 RBIs over 21 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1958-69), Montreal Expos (1969-74), St. Louis Cardinals (1975-76), Oakland Athletics (1976), Toronto Blue Jays (1977) and Los Angeles Angels (1978).

Fairly had one of the more colorful MLB careers you may ever hear of. Known by the nickname “Red,” he debuted at the age of 19 and played in four World Series with the Dodgers, winning three championships, all before his 28-year-old season. His 215 career home runs are the most in baseball history by a player without a 20-homer season. He played on a pair of expansion teams – the Expos in 1969 and Blue Jays in 1977 – and is one of just a handful of players in MLB history to appear in over 1,000 games in both the infield and outfield.

Fairly began his broadcasting career with the Angels in 1979, where he stayed until joining the San Francisco Giants’ team in 1987. He joined the Mariners in 1993.

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Former Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly, legendary MLB figure, dead at 81