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Former Spokane Indians player, Seattle Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly dies at age 81

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 30, 2019

Former Spokane Indians player and Seattle Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly died Wednesday at the age of 81. (SR)
Former Spokane Indians player and Seattle Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly died Wednesday at the age of 81. (SR)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – With an unmistakable style featuring a self-deprecating sense of humor and unique voice, Ron Fairly was a distinctive presence on the Seattle Mariners radio and television broadcasts for 14 seasons. His home-run call of “There it goes. See ya later!” was used for many a memorable home run in the franchise’s history.

Like his friend and colleague Dave Niehaus, that voice will now have to live on in recordings and fan memories.

On Wednesday, Fairly died at age 81 after a yearslong battle with cancer. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary.

“Ron was a key voice in our history,” said Kevin Mather, Mariners president and CEO, in a news 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.”

Born on July 12, 1938, in Macon, Georgia, Fairly spent 50 years in baseball as a player and broadcaster, including as a color commentator and fill-in play-by-play voice for Mariners television and radio from 1993 to 2006 and also as a fill-in in 2007 and 2010.

Fairly played the majority of the 1960 season for the Spokane Indians – the Triple-A affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time.

“Ron was not only a great broadcaster, he was a great friend,” Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs said in a 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.”

Friends and colleagues often called Fairly by his nickname, “Red,” which came from the dense forest of brownish-red hair that slowly faded into gray in the later years.

“Red was a true gentleman of the game and in life,” said Kevin Cremin, former Mariners radio producer/engineer, in a release. “He spanned many eras of baseball and had great stories to tell about all of them. He will be missed.”

Fairly was raised in Southern California, where he blossomed into a standout athlete. He graduated from Jordan High School in Long Beach, where he starred in basketball and baseball. He opted to attend the University of Southern California as a finance major to play baseball, eschewing a basketball scholarship offer from UCLA head coach John Wooden. Fairly became an All-American for the USC baseball team, helping lead it to the 1958 NCAA championship.

He was signed by the Dodgers in 1958 following the College World Series and made his MLB debut that same season.

Fairly played 21 seasons in MLB with six teams: the Dodgers (1958-69), Montreal Expos (1969-74), St. Louis Cardinals (1975-76), Oakland Athletics (1976), Toronto Blue Jays (1977) and Los Angeles Angels (1978).

In 2,442 games, he compiled a lifetime average of .266 with 215 home runs and 1,044 RBIs. He was a two-time All-Star (1973 and 1977) and played in four World Series (1959, 1963, 1965 and 1966), winning three championships (1959, 1963 and 1965). His 215 home runs are the most in MLB history by a player without a single 20-homer season. He is one of fewer than a dozen players to appear in more than 1,000 games in the infield and in over 1,000 games in the outfield.

He turned to broadcasting in 1979 for KTLA as part of the Angels radio/television team until 1986. Beginning in 1987, he broadcast the San Francisco Giants, where he remained until joining Seattle in 1993.

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