Hodgson: My Letter to Jerry
February 13, 2018
I had a great discussion with a friend yesterday about team broadcasters and how the good ones become part of the identity of their team, and times when certain voices have stepped away and it felt like part of the team's personality left or changed.
I shared my philosophy that yes you are going to cover your own team thoroughly and you have to know your audience, but you still have a duty to represent both teams and sets of fans professionally and of course never use terms like "us", "we", "good guys" or "bad guys."
Everything I said in that talk, my basis for how to conduct yourself as a broadcaster, was learned through observing the actions and listening to the words of Jerry Howarth.
But Jerry, honestly, never once did you cross my mind when talking about voices stepping away. That just wasn't something that I had ever given a thought to. You just walked through your recent challenges with the same calm, thankful attitude and without a word of complaint. I wasn't - I'm not - ready for this, Jerry.
But I understand and support you, just as you have me every step of the way, and I am happy for you.
You are such an integral part of the Blue Jays family, deeper than talking your millions of friends through the games. Every single person I've ever come in contact with in the Blue Jays reveres you. Tell anybody "I'm a friend of Jerry," and the door opens. Buck Martinez, Joe Siddall, Pat Tabler, Jamie Campbell, Alan Ashby, "Shaker" Moseby, Jesse Barfield, Duane Ward and most of all our friend "Whispering" Bob Elliott; just some of the people who have offered me their time and friendship because of our mutual love and respect for the man behind the mic.
I don't say it or show it enough, but I am eternally grateful to all of you, especially you and Bob, and love you like family.
Just the other day, you asked for my name to join yours on Bob's annual list of the most influential Canadians in baseball. Who does that? You do that. I don't know what I did to deserve that, other than to treat everybody with the same respect and care that you do, and try to live out your approach on life: Live it one day at a time, thank God for every opportunity, and enjoy it all.
Yesterday, a young broadcaster saw my name beside yours and asked how I met you. We swapped stories of how you've mentored and been a friend to both of us, and I know this is the case for so many young broadcasters you have taken under your wing.
You would never think, never mind talk this way, so let me say it for you. You deserve to join your friend and partner, the late, great Tom Cheek on the Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre. If that day comes, I will do everything in my power to be in the ballpark.
I'll miss our batting practice chats and booth visits, but I'll make it back to your town for a visit as friends outside of the game and maybe sneak a peak at your famous man cave.
To this point, I feel I've fallen short in my baseball career, though nobody could compare to you so I don't know why I still think that way. But I'm okay with that, because what I've learned from you is far more important. Live life one day at a time, thank God for every opportunity, and enjoy it all.
I've never met Vin Scully, but I know you as a friend, and I'm sure Vin has a lot of Jerry in him. "Call it two!" You and Vin are cut from the same cloth, and are on the same level in broadcasting and in character, evident by the universal respect for both of you across the game.
Yes sir, what a career! While Blue Jays fans now have to say 'there she goes' to having that friendly voice guiding them through each game, it's time for you to take flight and enjoy your retirement!
Congratulations, my friend.