Call after viral call, Sims builds legacy in the booth

February 13th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Dave Sims vividly recalls the sprint across a bustling intersection in midtown Manhattan. He was already running late, but after identifying the woman on the adjacent corner, he had to -- absolutely had to -- introduce himself.

“I almost got hit twice,” Sims recalled of the interaction amidst traffic, which took place a few years before he became the Mariners’ television broadcaster.

The woman was Rachel Robinson, the wife of Jackie -- and Sims’ greatest idol.

“I said, ‘Thank you,’” Sims recounted. “‘You and your husband mean so much to me. To meet you and who you are and what you stand for and the ground that you broke, it allows me to have the career I have.’”

Sims' career has become one of the most accomplished among Black broadcasters, a role he recently discussed this Black History Month.

Dave Sims and Lou Brock

“All in all, I thank God that I’ve had a good run,” said Sims, winner of three straight Washington Sportscaster of the Year Awards (2018-20) from the National Sports Media Association.

In this era of content overload, where epic broadcasting calls can be shared with the ease of a post, Sims’ profile has gained even more prominence. One of the Mariners’ most creative and resonating social campaigns in 2021 involved placing a GoPro in the broadcast booth to capture calls -- and more so, the reactions -- from the color commentators in big moments.

The first to spread like wildfire was Sims’ call of Mitch Haniger’s go-ahead base hit on the penultimate day of the 2021 season that kept Seattle’s playoff hopes alive.

One year later, it was Sims’ epic call of Cal Raleigh’s walk-off homer on Sept. 30, which secured Seattle's first postseason berth in 21 years.

The broadcaster’s phone after each call was buzzing well into the next morning, only possible due to the viral nature of the call and shareability.

“The pitch from Acevedooooo,” Raleigh recently imitated, smiling. “I'll be scrolling through Instagram or something and [Sims’ call] pops up, or my mom is on Facebook and it pops up. ... It was awesome. What a special night.”

What Mariners fans hear on the airwaves is Sims’ passion for the game blended with decades of acumen. What they don’t see is his tireless preparation and commitment to relationships.

Sims is on the field every day before batting practice, conversing with everyone from Mariners ownership to the grounds crew and Seattle’s opponents that night. Astros postseason hero Alex Bregman always comes by for a chat, as does Yankees superstar Aaron Judge, among many more.

Sims has particularly bonded with Mariners players, most notably when he paneled “Black Voices in Baseball” to recognize Juneteenth and raise awareness of Black Lives Matter during the height of protests calling for racial equality in June 2020.

“We’ve got to continue to have these conversations,” Sims said. “Obviously, there was more urgency in 2020, but I think they’d be even more welcoming now. The ability to listen to and understand each other, I think needs to be put on the front burner.”

Sims' tenure carries credibility, but his personable efforts go even further.

“You’ve got stories -- not just a story -- every single day,” Sims said. “You’re following up on last night, looking ahead to today’s game, what could happen. Just general curiosity. I like to know what’s going on. You’ve got to have stuff to talk about, especially on TV. Baseball is such a great storytelling sport. And I like mixing with these guys, seeing what motivates them, what makes them tick.”

Sims, 69, was born in Philadelphia and was just three years old when Robinson retired after the 1956 World Series. His father, Ulysses, was a huge sports fan, and in between climbing into a supervisory role with an area post office, he instilled his passions in Sims, who before he was in grade school was enamored. Ulysses took Dave to see Wilt Chamberlain star for the NBA’s 76ers and NFL legend Jim Brown when he was playing against the Eagles.

But baseball grew into Sims’ greatest love, and the most special moments of his childhood were when Ulysses took him to see Willie Mays and Hank Aaron at the iconic Connie Mack Stadium, roughly a 15-minute walk from their home. Sims still wishes he would have seen Jackie play in person, even if he would have been too young to remember.

Willie Mays and Dave Sims

“I’ve been going to games since I was yay-big,” Sims said, gesturing his hand below his waist. “I wasn’t built and designed to be a scientist or pilot.”

Sims is eager to begin his 17th season in Seattle and calling a winning team. Despite his accolades, he’s still eager for what’s in store -- all while never forgetting the path he’s forged to get here.