With the 2018 season about to begin, one Jays From the Couch writer describes missing legendary Blue Jays voice, Jerry Howarth
The Blue Jays season is ramping up and the sounds of spring training baseball is filling the radio airwaves as well as -far too seldom -the few games they show on TV. Do we really need to see darts instead Sportsnet? Excitement generating opportunities for the upcoming season are being lost daily, especially when a beloved voice that was paramount in building that excitement will be missing this season.
The crack of the bat, the moves along base, the beautifully executed pitches are all being called by a plethora of new voices and old, but one so familiar will leave a void no matter who takes the chair. That is the voice of Jerry Howarth.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel the first time I heard a game called post Jerry. He has been the voice of the Blue Jays for 36 years and vacations and ill days aside, he has been a steadying guide for Blue Jays fans. His calls, his commentary, his gentle manner made fans across this country feel at home in their fandom, and has lasted through generations. He was not only the voice of my childhood and the voice of much of my adulthood, he is the voice of my children’s childhood as well.
It was my first time in Dunedin, at spring training, when I first had the pleasure of meeting this Blue Jays icon. I had gone down to write for Jays From the Couch and to live tweet some games, completely excited about the upcoming season. I had high hopes, and on my interview bucket list was sitting down with Blue Jays legend Jerry Howarth to talk Baseball.
I found a way to contact Jerry, and nervously typed out my request, hoping that he would agree while realizing that the probability would be somewhat low. When I got his response with his agreement to meet, I was nervous, beyond excited and thankful that he would share a few minutes of his time.
A few minutes of his time turned into an interview that I am really proud of. He was engaging and funny, relaxed and genuine. Everything I had heard about him was true. He really was the nicest person in baseball.
Jerry has a way about him. He cares about people and he shows it. He was genuinely interested in what had led me on to this path of Blue Jays writing, my life outside of baseball, and how the game had in some ways saved my life after tragedy had forever altered it. He made me feel, like everyone I’ve encountered who knows him, very comfortable in his presence.
When the interview did start, despite the recording device that sat on the table, it felt more like sitting down with a friend and talking baseball rather than an interview. My nerves melting away as the time went by unchecked. It wouldn’t be the last time he was so generous with his time.
Our friendship started that day, and it’s a friendship I will always cherish and be be thankful for. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
This is Jerry Howarth. This is the feeling he brings to everyone he meets. This is what he brought to Blue Jays baseball, and to the thousands of fans he took the time to talk to. He said it best when talking to Sportsnet on February 13 announcing his retirement,
My friendship with Jerry continues to this day and as I look back at all of our interactions, now so many of my favourite moments, I will forever be thankful for having this amazing person a part of my life story. I am also truly thankful to have his words be the forward to the Jays From the Couch Guide to the 2018 Blue Jays, as it gives me the opportunity to read and re read them, the sound of his voice filling my head.
I am still sad that his voice will be missing, and wish he could’ve had the farewell season he so richly deserved, but life doesn’t always follow a plan. My hope is that when he is present at games, his name is called so he can feel the love from the fans who I know would cheer their appreciation for all he has brought to Blue Jays baseball. I want him hear just how much he will be missed, how much he is loved.
And to Jerry, I tip my Blue Jays cap to you. The journey that is our friendship continues with love and respect my friend. I wish you, Mary, Ben and Joe the very best that life has to offer.
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.