Blue Jays’ Jerry Howarth winding down his radio career?
“Yes sir! There she goes!” Ah, those five simple words. Basic and short yet oh so significant. To the average joe, these words represent a straightforward, grammatically perfect, structured sentence. Yet, to any Jays fan who’s ever listened to a baseball game on the radio, these words represent so much more than just that. They represent a hit, a play, a shift in the game, a potential game changer.
These words come to life and are more meaningful because of the voice behind them. The voice of the Blue Jays, the legendary Jerry Howarth.
Jerry Howarth has been the voice of the Toronto Blue Jays since 1981. He started the 1982 season working exclusively with Tom Cheek and soon legions of fans fell in love with this dynamic duo. Sorrow filled the airwaves and beyond with Cheek’s unfortunate passing from brain cancer in 2005, yet Howarth carried on; continuing to give the listeners the stories, details, and status updates of the game that they had all grown accustomed to.
In the fall of 2016, Howarth was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery during that offseason to remove a small tumour. After a few months of recovery time including daily walks and drinking decaffeinated coffee, Howarth was feeling better and getting ready for the upcoming 2017 season. He announced several games in April but soon contracted laryngitis, conjunctivitis, and a virus in both his eyes which required treatment and rest and as a result, had to step away from the game for a couple of months. The end of June was soon here and with it came the return of Howarth. Fans, media, athletes and coaches alike were elated and excited upon seeing his return to the booth.
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Just the other day, an article by Andrew Stoeten of bluejaysnation.com mentioned the end of an era, named Jerry Howarth, might be soon upon us. Keep in mind the Jays haven’t made any statements nor has Howarth publicly commented on the story, but taking into account his recent health struggles and how he missed the first part of the 2017 season, it’s a story that could possibly hold some truth to it.
Let’s go on the presumption that Howarth is indeed wrapping up his career as the voice of the Jays; it would sad and extremely bittersweet. We’ve had Howarth in our living rooms and in our vehicles for over 35 years; he’s made us feel happy, disappointed, joyful, upset and so much more. The ability to connect and make us, his listeners, feel like he’s talking to just us is a unique gift that not every radio voice can accomplish; yet Jerry can and still does that.
This contributor had the privilege of meeting Howarth 20 years ago after sending him a couple of fan letters. When I bumped into him again a few years back, not only did he remember me but also my parents and our large family! His affinity for details would escape most people, not for Jerry though.
Change is the only constant in life. People’s priorities shift as they get older. We tend to discover and develop different interests and activities than we did, say 15 or 20 years ago. The same can be said regarding our careers. What was once was a career that we enjoyed, achieved and thrived at, slowly makes us tired, worn down and not as interested in it as we once were. We start to look at the company we work at and the role we play in it differently.
As I haven’t spoken directly to Howarth about this rumour, I cannot speak from first-hand knowledge. But what I can say is that, whether it happens sooner or later, tomorrow or next season, Howarth will one day retire as we all will. And when that poignant and nostalgic day arrives, you can bet that the stands will be full, the crowd will be loud and the players, young and old, will be present. Not only because he’s a friendly, knowledgeable and all around great guy, but he’s one that truly loves what he does and loves the game of baseball and for that we, the listeners, are thankful.