You won't believe the Seattle sports icons fans want to bronze
Posted by Don Shelton
Vote in today's poll
After the statue of Dave Niehaus was unveiled last week, I nominated four Seattle sports icons I thought deserved to be bronzed. Then I asked for your picks.
Most of the nominees were excellent -- and predictable.
Many of you agreed with my Final Four -- former Washington football coach Don James, ex-Sonics player/coach Lenny Wilkens, ex-Seahawks player Steve Largent and former Mariners player Ken Griffey Jr.
Still, I didn't expect some of your choices.
For every Dawgfather, you came up with a stunner. For every Lenny Wilkens, you surprised me. You thought outside the box, and the answers are terrific.
Some were wistful. Some were angry. All were passionate.
First, the more predictable ones. The Mariners were popular, with Griffey, Randy Johnson and even Ichiro being mentioned. Ichiro pointing his bat toward the pitcher and tugging on his sleeve would be a pretty compelling statue.
One email included just one word: Edgar.
Two nonathletes I didn't expect, but should have, were suggested by you to join Niehaus, the Mariners' legendary announcer whose remarkable bronze statue was unveiled Friday at Safeco Field.
(I attended Saturday's game with my wife and mother-in-law, and we were all impressed. The likeness is stunning in its detail. And having an empty seat next to the voice of the Mariners in his "booth" in right-center field was a brilliant touch.Niehaus and his family deserve the honor, and Dave would certainly give it his wholehearted "My Oh My!")
Nominated to join Dave in our press box in the sky were two other late legends -- former Sonics announcer Bob Blackburn and former Seattle Rainiers play-by-play legend Leo Lassen. Both are iconic announcers who painted the Seattle sports landscape with their vocal tapestries. Good choices.
Another reader suggested Keith Jackson, a broadcasting legend who is a Washington State University graduate and worked in Seattle early in his career.
Two basketball duos were mentioned, as if you couldn't separate one player from the other -- the Sonics' Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, and the Storm's Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. One reader suggested immortalizing Payton, Bird, Jackson and Wilkens when a new arena is built for pro basketball in Seattle. Let's hope that comes soon.
There was some humor. One reader, calling himself "Burn City Bill," suggested Griffey, just as I did. But he had a different idea for a statue.
"Show him sleeping in the overstuffed clubhouse chair during the game," he suggested.
I wouldn't hold my breath for that one.
Seattle baseball legend Fred Hutchinson was mentioned. Warren Moon, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who led the Huskies to a Rose Bowl and later played for the Seahawks, was also nominated by two readers.
Greg Bean actually chose Moon, but thought Sonny Sixkiller also should be considered.
"As a white kid growing up in Seattle in the 1960s and '70s, my two biggest Seattle sports heroes were great UW QBs who broke the color barrier when I hardly even knew there was such a barrier: Sonny Sixkiller and Warren Moon," he wrote in an email. "If I can only choose one of them, it's Moon."
But the biggest surprises came from readers who went beyond one or two athletes and thought bigger.Two of you suggested tongue-in-cheek (I think) statues of your antiheroes.
"How about one with Howard Schultz, Clay Bennett and David Stern sitting at a table sipping Starbucks lattes," wrote Rambisfan of Yakima.
Schultz was included in a suggestion by Olympiaman69 of Shelton: "How about a statue of Howard Schultz, Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong, Tim Ruskell, and Pate Carroll that the pigeons can crap all over for what they've collectively done to destroy any hope for success in Seattle sports?"
Another group project would represent sports icons of a different kind.
"I'd like to see a statue consisting of the Tuba Man, Rick the Peanut Man and Bill the Beerman somewhere prominent in the stadium district," wrote Olee of Tacoma. "They're all gone now and provided so many with smiles over the years of not so good baseball and football. They should be remembered in a bronze statue."
Geepwizzer of Seattle envisioned another group statue that would honor the 1979 Sonics, Seattle's first world championship team.
"The Sonics championship team, Downtown Freddie Brown, Paul Silas, Jack Sikma, DJ, JJ, Gus, etc." wrote Geepwizzer, adding that it could be patterned after the "Waiting for Interurban" statue in Fremont.
But my favorite would immortalize a scene so iconic that I can't believe no one has thought of it -- the pile of Mariners at home plate after Edgar Martinez's double scored Ken Griffey Jr. with the winning run in the 1995 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees.
Paul Rauch suggested that one, along with the obvious title: "The Double." That moment occurred Oct. 8, 1995.
That's almost 16 years ago, but it remains perhaps Seattle's most stirring, enduring sports moment.
Time to bronze it forever.
Mar 7 - 2:00 PM Sometimes smaller is better in college basketball
Mar 6 - 1:00 PM Enhancing our city and region's sports reputation
Mar 4 - 3:00 PM Indoor tennis center to open at Sand Point on June 1
Mar 2 - 2:00 PM What Seattle Times readers are saying