When you think of the Toronto Blue Jays, some of the greatest moments in the team’s history immediately come to mind: Joe Carter’s World Series winning home run, Jose Bautista and his bat flip, Carlos Delgado’s four home run game – the list goes on and on.
While fans are mostly attached to players on the field, the Blue Jays also had a lot of people off the field who influenced the team in numerous ways.
A few people who come to mind are Paul Beeston and his presence on the Jays management since the beginning, Cito Gaston and his managerial style during most of the 90s and the late 2000s, and radio broadcaster Tom Cheek and his incredible 4306 game streak.
That being said, individual players who have left their mark in the Blue Jays organization have been rightfully enshrined in the Level of Excellence, a monument to those who have shaped the franchise with their play or their decisions to improve the team.
There is one individual off the field who should garner some serious consideration for the Level and Excellence and that is former radio play-by-play host Jerry Howarth.
It is time the Toronto Blue Jays acknowledged one of the top broadcasters in franchise history in Jerry Howarth and have his name inducted into the Level of Excellence.
Players and coaching staff have come and gone, but for 36 years stretching from 1981 to 2017, Howarth could be heard alongside his late partner Tom Cheek and continued to call the game across the country for over 13 years after his partner retired back in 2004.
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In a time when Blue Jays games are no longer called by a dedicated radio staff, Howarth’s wisdom and voice on the radio is sorely missed with the way he was able to bring a game alive anywhere you were listening. He would call the game beside Cheek for quite a few years before assuming the number one role, working alongside a variety of broadcasters and former players while bringing fans the game on the fly with professionalism and accuracy that makes one miss the “good ole days” if you will.
The York, Pennsylvania native would begin his broadcasts with a welcoming “Hello Friends” and is synonymous with quite a few moments in franchise history like the bat flip or Edwin Encarnacion’s walk-off home run with a signature “there…she…goes”, a home run call that brings back quite a few memories from over the years.
Howarth earned a few accolades throughout his career, namely the 2012 Jack Graney Award from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the Sports Media Canada Award, once with Cheek in 2003 and individually winning again in 2016.
The broadcaster would retire in early 2018 due to health-related issues, with the former Bay Area resident working close to 7500 Blue Jays games throughout his career, being a part of almost every single playoff series (minus last season), and through the Jays World Series triumphs.
What no better way to give thanks and acknowledge a legend like Jerry Howarth and all the hard work and dedication he gave to the Blue Jays organization than putting his name in left field in the Level of Excellence, a testament to a broadcaster who set the bar high for what one should expect in a baseball play-by-play announcer.
Considering the recent move early this season from Rogers/Sportsnet that the Blue Jays won’t have a dedicated radio team for this season and beyond, fans can still hold on and remember the good times of when “Tom and Jerry” were on the radio, with a simple “Hello Friends” to start the game and hopefully hearing a few “there she’s goes” by the time the ninth inning comes to a close.