St. Marys – Jerry Howarth, the longtime radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2012 Jack Graney Award.
The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine generally presents this award annually to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work.
“I am very honoured to be named the Jack Graney Award winner for 2012 joining a long list of notables including the gentleman who brought me to Toronto, Len Bramson, and the other gentleman I worked with in the radio booth for years in Tom Cheek. That makes this award particularly special for me.”
“Jerry Howarth is the voice of summer for thousands of Canadians,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations. “In his 32 seasons on Blue Jays’ airwaves, he has set the standard for play-by-play commentators in our country. And not only is Jerry Howarth a great broadcaster, he’s an outstanding citizen who does a lot for his community. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honour.”
Born in 1946 inYork, Pennsylvania, Howarth grew up in San Francisco. After graduating with a degree in Economics from the University of Santa Clara, he served as an officer in the U.S. army, V Corps Headquarters, in Frankfurt, Germany from 1968 to 1970.
When he returned to the U.S., he attended Hastings Law School at the Universityof Californiain downtown San Francisco, where he met his wife, Mary. Howarth began broadcasting with the Triple-A Tacoma Twins in 1974, before assuming radio play-by-play duties for the Triple-A Salt Lake City Gulls in 1976.
It was while with the Gulls that he first applied for a radio job with the Blue Jays in 1977. The Jays opted to hire Tom Cheek and Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, but they told Howarth to stay in touch.
Howarth’s big break came when Gulls’ manager Jimy Williams was hired by the Blue Jays in 1980 and put in a good word for Howarth with the franchise brass. With that endorsement, Howarth was brought in to work three radio broadcasts for the club in 1980 and 20 more the following campaign, before being hired full-time in 1982.
For 23 seasons, Howarth teamed with Tom Cheek, who won the Jack Graney Award in 2001, on Blue Jays radio broadcasts. During that period, he watched the team evolve into an American League East powerhouse. Howarth was in the booth for all five of the Jays’ division titles between 1985 and 1993, as well as the team’s two World Series triumphs in 1992 and 1993.
For more than three decades, Howarth has been masterfully painting a picture of what’s transpiring on the field for Blue Jays’ radio listeners. His broadcasts are sprinkled with trademark catch phrases like “The Blue Jays are in flight!” – a phrase he uses when the Jays score their first run in a game – and “And there she goes!” – his popular home run call.
Now heading into his 33rd season in the Jays’ radio booth, Howarth has called more than 5,000 games for the club – the most of any broadcaster in franchise history.
Howarth, who became a Canadian citizen in 1994, resides in Toronto with his wife, Mary. He has two grown sons, Ben and Joe, and is the junior varsity basketball coach at Etobicoke Collegiate High School in Toronto. He was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 and is active in several charities, including the Special Olympics.
Howarth will be presented with the Jack Graney Award in a pre-game ceremony at the Rogers Centre early in the 2013 season.
Born in St. Thomas, Ont., Jack Graney was a scrappy leadoff hitter for the Cleveland Indians. His big league resume boasts a number of firsts. When he walked to the plate in a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 11, 1914, he became the first batter to face Babe Ruth. Almost two years later, on June 26, 1916, he was the first major leaguer to bat wearing a number on his uniform. After hanging up his spikes, Graney became the first ex-player to make the transition to the broadcast booth, performing radio play-by-play for the Indians from 1932 to 1953.
Previous Winners of the Jack Graney Award:
1987 – Neil MacCarl – Toronto Star
1988 – Milt Dunnell – Toronto Star
1990 – Austin “Dink” Carroll – Montreal Gazette
1991 – Joe Crysdale & Hal Kelly – CKEY
1996 – Dave Van Horne – TSN & CIQC
2001 – Tom Cheek – Toronto Blue Jays
2002 – Ernie Harwell – Detroit Tigers
2003 – Allan Simpson – Baseball America
2004 – Jacques Doucet – Montreal Expos
2005 – Len Bramson – TBS Sports
2009 – Ian MacDonald – Montreal Gazette
2010 – Bob Elliott – Sun Media & canadianbaseballnetwork.com
2011 – W. P. Kinsella – “Shoeless Joe” novel adapted to film “Field of Dreams”
2012 – Jerry Howarth –Toronto Blue Jays