— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 13, 2018
Sportsnet – Sportsnet’s Jerry Howarth has announced his retirement, closing out a remarkable 36-year career as the radio broadcaster of the Toronto Blue Jays. With health issues affecting his voice in recent years, Howarth’s personal decision to retire takes effect immediately.
“I had every intention of continuing my career into the 2018 season, but my health and stamina and continuing voice issues dictated otherwise,” said Howarth. “Who knew that I would spend more than half my life in Toronto with my wife, Mary, and our two sons, Ben and Joe, doing what I love to do most, reaching out to friends and fans alike across our great country to talk baseball? I am blessed, and I am grateful. I thank everyone who has made this journey of mine so rewarding in every way.”
When I was with The Fan, one of the most significant parts of my job was getting to know people I watched or listened to for so many years. None more important than getting to know Jerry Howarth. During the first couple of months doing practice shows, Jerry walked by, and I froze. He smiled and looked at me, smiled said “Hello Dean! What a pleasure to finally meet you.”
Growing up in small towns in western Canada listening to Blue Jays games Jerry and Tom were Demi-Gods. Hearing “Hello Friends welcome to another edition of Blue Jays Baseball” was settling and exciting at the same time. For years I would watch on TV and turn on the Radio to hear Jerry and Tom call games and when Tom, unfortunately, passed it was still Jerry who kept me company and made me feel like I was in my bedroom as a kid listening on an AM signal in Rosetown, Saskatchewan.
“Thank you, Mr. Howarth. I can’t believe I’m meeting you.” I replied nervously. Jerry shook my hand and invited me down to a game to sit with him in the Play by Play booth.
I didn’t think he was serious, but he was.
I walked into the booth, and Jerry’s producer Tom Young welcomed me and former Jays closer Duane Ward was filling in for Joe Siddall that day. Jerry was sitting facing the field with a million papers neatly marked with highlighters and notes he penned in preparation. It looked like a combination of the chalkboard from Good Will Hunting.
“Would you like to come on the broadcast?” Jerry asked facing the field of play with a smile on his face.
Tom Handed me headphones and Jerry welcomed me and asked me a couple of questions. I dont’ remember them because I was living my dream next to someone I felt I had known for three decades.”
They went to commercial break, and I just kept staring at Jerry and the field.
“Thanks, Dean. Happy you could come down today. I enjoy what you’re doing and don’t give up!”
Jerry turned around and got back to work.
We will always associate Jerry Howarth with World series calls and that friendly voice. I’ll remember Jerry more for something he did that had nothing to do with baseball.
When I left the Fan a year ago, I got an unexpected email. Initially, I thought it was a joke from some asshole when was happy I was gone, so I didn’t reply. A week later, another note came.
This is the Jerry you need to know. The one who during cancer treatment, thought to send me an email of hope and encouragement. Someone who didn’t have to, or need to reach out to someone who was pumped from a job, but did so despite battling critical illness.
It’s one thing for you to be something to everyone on an impersonal level. It’s entirely different when you that person cares about you and genuinely wants to make peoples lives better.
That’s what Jerry did whether he was calling an ALCS game or going through treatment.
Thank You, Jerry. For who you are to those who’ve called you their friend from 3000 miles away. Thank you for being in our lives. And more importantly, thank you for being my friend.