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Originally published Friday, January 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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M's juggle lineup in broadcast booth

Dave Sims has made a national name for himself as a broadcaster largely through his work on football and basketball, but he says that baseball...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Dave Sims has made a national name for himself as a broadcaster largely through his work on football and basketball, but he says that baseball has always been his first love and passion.

As a child in Philadelphia, Sims could walk onto his stoop and see the lights at the Phillies' ballpark. He played catcher at Bethany College in West Virginia, a Division III school, and worshipped fellow catchers of the era, such as Tim McCarver and Joe Torre.

"For an African-American kid in the 1960s, baseball was still pretty much king," Sims said.

Now Sims is joining the Mariners' broadcasting crew, his hiring announced Thursday along with former major-league infielder Mike Blowers.

The two will work primarily in the television booth, with Sims as play-by-play man and Blowers doing color commentary. Longtime Mariners announcers Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs will be back in 2007, but Dave Valle and Dave Henderson will not retain their analyst roles.

"This is huge," said Sims, who turns 54 on Valentine's Day. "This is a spectacular opportunity for me and my family."

Sims becomes one of the few African-American broadcasters in major-league baseball, and, he believes, the only one that's not a former major-league player.

"That blows my mind; it's sad," he said.

"I'd like to see baseball get back to where it's more attractive to folks in the African-American community."

Sims, who calls NFL games on Westwood One/CBS radio as well as college basketball on ESPN, describes his style as "high energy, because I'm excited about being there."

The Mariners' 2007 plan is for Niehaus to begin each game in the TV booth for the first few innings with Blowers, and then move to the radio booth with Rizzs. For most games, Rizzs will work on the radio side only. Sims and Blowers will team up when Niehaus goes to the radio booth.

"We were looking for a little more consistency in the booth on both sides," said Randy Adamack, the Mariners' vice president of communications.

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Blowers, 41, replaces former analysts Henderson and Valle, who may appear in more limited roles. Adamack said the team was looking for a full-time analyst, rather than splitting the duties as in the past.

"We've told both of them [Henderson and Valle] there will probably be some times over the course of the season where we'd want to use them in a game here or there," Adamack said.

Henderson and Valle may now be candidates to do pre- and postgame work on KOMO 1000 radio and Fox Sports Northwest.

Blowers, who attended Bethel High School in Spanaway and the University of Washington and had three playing stints with the Mariners (1992-95, 1997, 1999), said the move to the booth is the next logical step in his broadcasting career. For the past four years, Blowers has done the pre- and postgame shows on KOMO.

"I think it's something I've kind of progressed into," he said. "I felt if the opportunity ever came up, I'd like to give it a try. I felt it was time to make a change."

The biggest issue, Blowers said, was how his wife and four kids (ages 14, 12, 10 and 8) felt about him going back out on the road.

"They're all for it — I'm not sure if that's good or bad," he joked. "When I weighed all the pros and cons, the only con was the travel. I've been out of that end of it for 7 ½ years. It's time to start packing the bags."

Adamack said that Blowers has aspirations at some point to do play-by-play, and the club plans to help him learn the craft.

Sims' career includes a stint doing baseball play-by-play on ESPN. Sims is likely to continue some of his network broadcasting roles in the Mariners' offseason, but he said that is still being worked out.

As for Niehaus, who will be 72 next season and has been the Mariners' lead broadcaster since their inception in 1977, "Dave knows he's got a job here and can be behind the mike as long as he wants to," Adamack said.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com.

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