Blue Jays fans were taken aback on Tuesday morning, as it was announced that the longtime radio voice of the team, Jerry Howarth, was announcing his retirement, effective immediately. I wrote about it in the aftermath of the announcement, and did my best to capture the strange realization that Blue Jays games on the radio will no longer open with Jerry’s charmingly folksy declaration, “Hello friends!”
But I was writing all that, the best tribute possible was taking place on the air. Howarth, who has been calling Jays games since the strike-shortened season of 1981, not only made the announcement himself, live on the Jeff Blair Show on the Fan 590, but he stuck around for two hours, taking calls from fans and reminiscing with friends and colleagues.
Mike Wilner, Jerry’s heir apparent, who I think is going to do a great job (with apologies to those who don’t seem to appreciate his delightfully prickly JaysTalk persona) once he takes his deserved spot in the big chair (#TeamWilner), helpfully tweeted a link to the show on Tuesday afternoon, which originally came from Blair’s excellent producer, Travis MacKenzie.
Travis, I think, needs to especially be commended for holding it all together for such an emotional show featuring a cavalcade of excellent guests, like Joe Bowen, Scott Moore, Shirley Cheek, John Gibbons, Tom Henke, Eric Smith, Dan Shulman, Nelson Millman, and Stephen Brunt.
But, of course, the day belonged to Jerry. Have a listen:
And there she goes…