The Seattle Times’ Larry Stone reports Dave Niahaus, Mariners broadcaster since the club’s inception in 1977, passed away earlier today after suffering a heart attack. A Hall Of Fame inductee in 2008, Niehaus was synonymous with baseball in the Pacific Northwest, and is arguably as important figure in Mariners history as Ichiro, Ken Griffey Jr., A-Rod or Randy Johnson.

Rick Rizzs, Niehaus’ longtime partner was shocked by the news.

“What a loss,” Rizzs said. “Holy cow. I feel numb. He meant everything to Mariner baseball. Everything. He was not only the voice of the Mariners, he WAS the Mariners. He was the face of the franchise. When you turned on the radio, everything was right with the world when you heard Dave’s voice.”

Former Mariners outfielder Jay Buhner worked with Niehaus in the booth and called him one of a kind.

“Words can’t describe what I am feeling right now,” Buhner said. “This is the saddest day of my life. It is like I am losing a Dad, someone that was a father figure to me. … He described everything with an art and painted a picture you could see in your mind. I’ve had the honor of working with him as a player and also in the broadcast booth, and there was no one better. He was a consummate pro at everything he did. I am going to miss everything about the guy ” going to miss his face, his ugly white shoes and his awful sport coats.”