Cancer Claims Gross -- Voice Of Seahawks Dies At Age 55

Fifty-two hours after being inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor and bringing a lump to fans' throats with a final rendition of his signature call, "Touchdown Seahawks!," Pete Gross died.

The radio announcer died at his Mercer Island home last night after a five-year battle with cancer. He was 55.

Funeral plans are pending.

Gross had planned to broadcast Monday's game but was too fatigued and returned home after the ceremony. The Seahawks awarded Gross the game ball after the 16-13 overtime triumph over Denver.

"We'll miss him," said Seahawks Coach Tom Flores as he left the Seahawks facility last night. "He'll still be there every time you look up (at the Ring of Honor at the Kingdome). I'm glad he was able to enjoy his day (Monday)."

Gross had broadcast all but six Seahawks games, starting with the inaugural 1976 season.

"He counted every player, coach and fan as his friend," said Steve Raible, his broadcasting partner, in announcing Gross' death on KIRO-TV, Channel 7, last night. With his voice cracking, Raible added, "Pete Gross, the best damn sportscaster I ever knew."

Steve Largent, Jim Zorn and Dave Brown - the first three inductees into the Ring of Honor - attended Monday's ceremony in which a banner with Gross' name and a drawing of a microphone were unveiled over his broadcasting booth. They helped him walk to and from the golf cart used to transport him to the field. During the ceremony, Gross gracefully introduced his family, thanked several people and mustered enough strength for a final "Touchdown Seahawks!"

Gross was born and grew up in the San Francisco area. Early in his career, he was a rock 'n' roll disc jockey. He was named sports director at KIRO in 1973, moving to Seattle from Stockton, Calif., where he had done play-by-play for University of Pacific basketball and football games.

Although best known for his Seahawks' broadcasts, Gross also had covered University of Washington football and basketball and SuperSonics' NBA games during his career.

Gross was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1988. A kidney was removed, but about 18 months later cancer was found in his liver. Six weeks ago, doctors were unable to perform an operation to clear his bile ducts because the cancer had spread.

The broadcaster always was willing to discuss his cancer because he hoped his openness might help someone else.

"I've been lucky," Gross said last week. "I've had a great life."

Gross is survived by his wife, Beverly; and daughters Deborah, 29, of Bellevue; Wendy, 25, of Augusta, Ga.; and Susie, 22, a student at the University of Oregon.