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"Hooking... hooking... there she goes!"

Try to read that line without imagining the voice of Jerry Howarth, now in his 23rd year of broadcasting Blue Jays baseball. We're delighted to have him step into Da Box to answer your questions.

A native of York, PA, Jerry grew up in San Francisco, but is now a year-round resident of the GTA, where he coaches youth basketball in the winter. His radio career began with the AAA Tacoma Twins, then the Salt Lake City Gulls. He was also Group Sales Manager for the NBA's Utah Jazz and Sports Director at KWMS before making the move to Toronto.

Howarth is always upbeat, relentlessly positive.

"Every game tells its own story," he told Tom Gage of the Detroit News last year. "I don't get on a roller-coaster ride. I want the Blue Jays to do well, but the game itself is that night's blank canvas, and when it's over, I move on to the next one.

"For me, though, there is no doom and gloom. Fans don't want to hear that."

The legendary Ernie Harwell was one of Jerry's influences. Howarth, long time partner Tom Cheek and other peers paid tribute in a Detroit Free Press feature when Harwell retired.

"Ernie has been a mentor for me. He's a wonderful Christian man whom I've emulated. He's bigger than the game because he lets the game take place and then he just calls what happens. I'm so impressed with how fundamental he is in his life and his calling of a ballgame. I saw things like discipline and routine in Ernie, and I said, 'I want to do that for myself.'"

Jerry has been very kind to Batter's Box, and knows what kind of avid fans read the site. He won't be answering your questions directly in this thread, but we'll sit down next weekend so he can respond to as many as time permits, then I'll post the interview early the following week.

Go ahead, Bauxites -- ask Jerry!

Ask Jerry Howarth | 46 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 01:43 PM EDT (#63343) #
No questions, only compliments. Jerry has developed his craft considerably since he arrived here in 1981. His preparation and attention to detail are noticed. Announcers don't peak at 27!

Painting a picture is a perfect analogy for a radio broadcast of a ballgame. Some of us do like "clouds" in our pictures ("the umpire missed that call" or "that was a weak throw from the outfield" drily relayed to the listeners helps us see more), but Jerry's sunny disposition is not really suited to that. Some of us paint still-lifes, and Jerry is one.
Craig B - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 01:45 PM EDT (#63344) #
I'd like to ask Jerry what he thinks is the one most positive change he's seen in baseball since he started in 1982. (1981?)

Also, I'd like to ask him if there are any lessons he can impart on the subject of working as a team with others, given that he's been working with Tom Cheek for so many years. My understanding (based on what I've read) is that Tom and Jerry don't necessarily get along that well away from the mike, like many of us with our co-workers. Yet they work together beautifully. Is there anything to it?
_perlhack - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 01:50 PM EDT (#63345) #
1. Do you have any interesting or embarrassing "on-air" stories?
2. How closely do you follow other MLB teams?
3. What research do you do to prepare for a game?
4. Anecdotes during the game - prepared, spontaneous, or both? (That is, are there certain stories he knows in advance he'll recount during a game?)
5. Do you look forward to seeing particular players/teams?

And just for flavour:

6. Given the choice - Leafs or Canadiens? ;-)
Mike D - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 02:22 PM EDT (#63346) #
If you could only pick one Blue Jay from the '80s, one Jay from the '90s and one player from the Jays' current roster to have over for dinner, who would be your three guests?

What's your all-time favourite play for which you handled the play-by-play?

Did Tom know in advance that you'd be handing the microphone back to him for the tenth inning in Game 6, 1992?

What's the most overused cliche in sports broadcasting?

What's the one fact about the game and the men that play it that you wish more fans understood?
_Ken Kosowan - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 02:42 PM EDT (#63347) #
As someone who has been listening to Jerry since 1986 I'd first of all like to commend him on helping make baseball come alive over the radio.

1. Baseball, like all things is very cyclic in nature. With so many great young pitchers arising today, do you think a movement away from the home-run centred offense in the near future. Can the era of the stolen base, the hit and run and the squeeze ever arise again?

2. The rist of statisical analysis has changed the way many look at babeball, especially the realm of player development and scouting. Has it in anyway affected the way you call games?

3. What would you say is the most positive thing about the Internationalization of the game? Most negative?

4. Baseball obviously needs to market itself in different ways to garner more support from working class households in North America. Do you believe that the Jays' Baseball North campaign is a good blueprint for other organizations if not MLB as a whole to follow or do you believe it is too aggressive?

5. In the 1980s, the Jays feuded with Detroit. Milwaukee always provided thrilling series....
With Detroit in the AL Central, the Brewers in the NL and the Yankees and Red Sox focused wholly on each other; what team do you see a bitter rivalry developing with for Toronto?

Thanks for your time and thanks to the Coach for arranging yet another intriguing interview.

Is it possible to interview Gord Ash at somepoint to determine his take on the movement towards new scouting and development techniques?
_Keith Talent - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#63348) #
Could you give us your $0.02 on Tosca and his bullpen use?
_Steve Z - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#63349) #
I'd also want to thank Jerry for "bringing it" day-in, day out!

Some random questions:
1) How has the internet -- and in particular, a site like da Box -- changed his job, and the way that traditional media cover the Jays?
2) What were his impressions of Russ Adams and Aaron Hill from Spring Training?
3) How has the transition been, to the three-person booth (with Wilner, for home games)?
4) Is the "Ricciardi Factor" overblown?
_Matthew E - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#63350) #
Q. In 2002 I thought the '02 Jays were loosely comparable to the '82 Jays. In '03 I thought the '03 Jays were loosely comparable to the '83 Jays, and the pattern is continuing in '04. Do you see the same thing?
Thomas - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 05:17 PM EDT (#63351) #
Some good questions so far, I especially like the one about sitting down to the dinner with three Jays.

1. At what age did you know you wanted to go into broadcasting?

2. With another great Jerry (Orbach of Law & Order) seemingly about to retire, do you have any thoughts of that in the future. Or, as I'm sure many of us hope, are you and Tom going to continue to work together into the forseeable future?

3. On the average day, when do you show up to the ballpark? When do you leave?

4. Do you fly from city to city on the team jet? How does that work?

5. Obviously the Jays, and baseball as a whole, is not doing very well in the teenage/young adult agae category, and is falling behind sports like basketball and hockey (in Canada, anyway). Do you have any suggestions for ways for the Jays specifically, or baseball generally, to try to increase the number of young fans at the game? Or do you not even perceive this as a problem?

6. Can you compare and contrast between Gillick, Ash and Ricciardi? Both with how they deal with you and the other media, and other things you may have noticed when observing them around the ballpark.

7. The Jays have spoken about a new, positive clubhouse atmosphere that's present in the last couple of years. Have you observed a difference in the 2003 team, compared to the 1998-2000 team, for example?
_Willy - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 09:37 PM EDT (#63352) #
Why do you regularly confuse the word "hone" with the word "home"? (People hone knives; they home in on targets.) And where did you get the pretentious business about an umpire "adjudging" a pitch as a ball or a strike? You've corrupted the vocabularies of an entire generation of young listeners.

And sometimes it's O.K. NOT to relentlessly fill the airspace. You don't have to "explain" so much, nor so often. Ernie H. didn't. Dan Shulman doesn't.

For me your relentless 'positive' bonhomie is a big negative.
_Ken Kosowan - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#63353) #

That question was supposed to be "the rise of statistical analysis"
_Flip - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 10:04 PM EDT (#63354) #
Actually willy, it is correct to say that someone is honing in on a target.
I guess there is always one contrary Mary in the bunch.
_The Fridge - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 11:05 PM EDT (#63355) #
What are you talking about, Shulman rambles on and on and on...
_Matthew E - Monday, April 12 2004 @ 11:26 PM EDT (#63356) #
No, willy's right about 'hone' and 'home'. Not that I think we should be firing his particular questions at Jerry Howarth, who, it should be remembered, is doing us a favour by consenting to this interview.
_Keith Talent - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 12:03 AM EDT (#63357) #
You know what always bugged me about Shulman? It was the way he accentuated certain words artificially, in mock surprise, to attempt to generate interest in an uninteresting situation. And he would do it with nearly every sentence (often twice per sentence).

Shulman (emphasized words of MOCK SURPRISE! in caps): 'Darrin Fletcher hits the ball to the gap, it bounces TWICE! before reaching the wall.'

'Out comes Fregosi and it LOOKS LIKE! he's going to the BULLPEN!.'

'Junior Spivey, Sr. had an illustruous career with THE DETROIT TIGERS! before joining Milwaukee.'

Otherwise he was brilliant, I think particuarly because he was well-teamed with Buck Martinez. That was the best duo I ever heard. Miller believes his own hype and Morgan is an unwise, opinionated, repetitive windbag (see also: Tim McCarver). The FOX guys are either sophomoric (Psycho Lyons) or borrowed from other sports: Buck Jr. (who could stand in for Craig Kilbourn on the Late Late Show).

Cerutti's an example of a good colour man poorly teamed. Put him with a semi-decent play-by-play guy and it will click.

I wonder if wordsmith 'willy' got far enough in his Guide to the English Language to reach the chapter on capitalization. Proper nouns are always capitalized: meaning 'Willy' not 'willy'.

It's so easy to pick on baseball broadcasters because they do have the best job in the world. And how fortunate they are because there are only 100 or so jobs like that at the Major League level. One would have to say that the broadcasters who make it to the Major League level need to be more distinguished in their field than Major League players in theirs (there are probably 700 or so roster spots in MLB). It's funny that there seems to be a lack of awe for these 'top-notch' broadcasters. I'll be the first to admit, broadcasters in general could be better.

I will qualify: coming from the West Coast I have barely heard the Jays radio guys.
_Matt - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 02:17 AM EDT (#63358) #
What advice could you give to an aspiring broadcast journalist other than 'never give up... reach for your dreams... etc..'? :)
_Da Hugga - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 02:21 AM EDT (#63359) #
Vell I must saye dat [uh] I dont entyrely agree vit yu, Mr. Keith Talents. About da brocasters and [uh] vhat not. You see -- for me --as the boy in Munchen I vas let us say kaptivated by [uh] da play-for-play and da kolor mens for da Frankfurt Weiners who were named Florian Hess and [uh] for da kolor was by Axl Rosen. They was vithout dout two best [uh] Ballspielgerrinen -- how do you say -- das gamecallers for me -- in this life.

No doubt of course dat Toscanini kant manage das kuhhausen so you are so right about dat.

Da Hugga!
Mike D - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 10:29 AM EDT (#63360) #
Wow. Arguably the most coldly disparaging post in Bauxite history and arguably the strangest post in Bauxite history -- both in a thread about a Jerry Howarth interview!

I miss Grimlock.
_Willy - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#63361) #
Jerry's sooo anxious to be liked and admired for his ‘character’ that he’s always imposing it upon us–-making that the focus of attention, rather than the ballgame itself. Somehow, some way, it's always about Jerry. He insistently wants us to think of him as a nice guy; and a knowledgeable one-–hence the pretentious locutions from time to time. And (whenever he can sneak it in) he’d like us to know he’s a very decent Christian fellow. Well, if he *is* those things, we’ll learn that in time. Jerry’s self-concern has caused me to switch off more than one Jays’ game.

“Hello, friends!” Sorry, we’re simply not all his “friends”: we’re a radio audience. (To be more serious, such a notion of friendship as a mile or so wide and about an inch deep debases and trivializes actual friendship.) If there's a word for a male counterpart to a Pollyanna, that's Jerry. He's way too concerned with his Mr. Nice Guy ‘image’, and with keeping it front and centre. Tom’s eyes must glaze over sometimes having to listen to his sidekick blather on. Cheek, whatever you think of him as an announcer, seems much more comfortable in his own skin, and isn’t always pleading with us to like him. So we tend to do so anyway. Jerry’s a professional announcer, making a great deal of money. He should try to be more professional-–like his “mentor”, Ernie Harwell maybe?

As for capitalizing names–that’s a convention. Ignoring it is not the same as mistaking the meanings of words. “Hone” and “home” just don’t mean the same things-–never have. He’s been mangling that one for years, and doesn’t seem to know it.
Mike D - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 11:24 AM EDT (#63362) #
Gosh, willy. I know my co-authors will wish I hadn't responded, but I feel compelled to speak up, because I suspect you may actually be serious.

Somehow, some way, it's always about Jerry.

Do you live in the GTA? If so, you may have seen Jerry around. I've seen him with a group of underprivileged children, taking them skiing at Centennial Park; I've seen him volunteer in a food bank in Mississauga; and I've seen him holding court at shopping malls with a Jays player, interviewing him and then asking kids trivia questions for Jays prizes. I don't stalk the man -- if I've seen him working in the public interest three times, how often must he be out in the community? And is it really "always about Jerry" when he is?

It was an absolute pleasure talking to him at Centennial. He's tied with Pinball Clemons for the most pleasant sports figure I've ever met -- and, not coincidentally, I've also personally seen Pinball volunteer at charity events.

“Hello, friends!” Sorry, we’re simply not all his “friends”: we’re a radio audience.

Mike D - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 11:25 AM EDT (#63363) #
My comment got cut off, but no matter. Basically, I was just sighing and shaking my head slowly and sadly after the last quoted text.
Named For Hank - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 11:34 AM EDT (#63364) #
willy, there are really only two options here:

1) You know Jerry Howarth personally and have had long conversations with him, which is how you know all that you claim to know about what he wants and desires and who he is as a person.

2) You're a crank who enjoys beating down people who can't or won't fight back.

Get over yourself.
Craig B - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#63365) #
“Hello, friends!” Sorry, we’re simply not all his “friends”: we’re a radio audience.

Mike didn't address, so I will.

He may not be your friend. You may not be his friend. I may not be his friend. But Jerry Howarth is *my* friend. And I am quite pleased that he recognizes the fact. You may treat his "Hello, friends" as not including you if you like.

The world needs more Jerry Howarths. That's not to say I want everybody to be like that, but I admire anyone who can do what he does and be who he is.

He should try to be more professional

By "professional", you mean "dispassionate". I (and I think the rest of the audience) don't want him to be dispassionate. This isn't TV; it's radio. I want and need that personal connection. That's why I like Mike Wilner so much; he throws himself into the broadcast as well. Not for the sake of being controversial, or stirring the pot; just because he's more interesting, and the broadcast is more interesting, if he's himself. It's a lesson that he's learned well.
_Morty - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#63366) #
willy, from our friends at

home (v. intr.) To move or lead toward a goal: The investigators were homing in on the truth.

hone in (phrasal v.) To move or advance toward a target or goal: The missiles honed in on the military installation.

Your point is?

hone (intr. v.) To whine or moan
Pepper Moffatt - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 11:55 AM EDT (#63367) #

Do you know what else I hate? Those little bags of peanuts they give you on airplanes! Why are they so darned hard to open!?!
Named For Hank - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 12:04 PM EDT (#63368) #
Morty, is also not willy's friend.

Like Craig, I have enjoyed Jerry's broadcasts for as long as I can remember. He's engaging, he's excited about the game he's watching, and he makes it fun and personal.
_Wildrose - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#63369) #
Could Tom Cheeks middle name be "willy"?
_Willy - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#63370) #
Wow! I seem to have transgressed. But, alas, I am serious: I don’t think Jerry is a very good announcer. So, we disagree.

I’ve never met him and have no personal feelings about him beyond those he elicits by his on-air personality. I have nothing else to respond to *but* the personality he projects on air. (I turn off the FAN 590 for the same reasons sometimes.) And no, I’m not a ‘crank’ etc. (I’m assuming Jerry will never see my comments.) But surely we can disagree without throwing rocks? And give reasons for our views?

He may well be a nice guy. Lots of people are. And don’t advertise themselves as such. (O.K., I appreciate that some of you will disagree with me on that one.)

By professional I mean getting the language right (he is a broadcaster), and yes, not imposing his ‘personality’ so much upon the listeners. In my view, that’s unprofessional. is wrong. And, yes Mike Moffatt, those damned peanut bags are too hard to open. You guys should relax. I’m going out for a while to get over myself.
_Matthew E - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#63371) #
I'm not on willy's side about Howarth, but I am united and steadfast with him against
_coliver - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#63372) #
I miss Fergie Olver.
What is he doing these days?
Gitz - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#63373) #
I don't believe in censorship, but ... can we PLEASE get rid of that picture of Andy Rooney? We have enough young cranks on here -- Gizzi, raise your hand! -- without adding Rooney.
_Jonny German - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 01:10 PM EDT (#63374) #
willy: is wrong.

Matthew E: I'm not on willy's side about Howarth, but I am united and steadfast with him against

Wrong according to what authority? Like it or not, when a word is mis-used often enough, by enough people, the mis-usage becomes a correct usage. Same thing with spelling, and with grammar. That's the nature of language.

For the record, I don't like it; I wish Moffatt would stop saying "coz", it makes it all the more difficult to take anything he says seriously.
_Matthew E - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 01:24 PM EDT (#63375) #
Like it or not, when a word is mis-used often enough, by enough people, the mis-usage becomes a correct usage.

Oh, well, let's just say any damn thing we want then; history will be on our side eventually. When did having standards become futile? Language is more than a game of Broken Telephone.

'Hone in on' is an improper use of the word 'hone' and you can tell Jerry Howarth or or anyone you like that I said so.
Pepper Moffatt - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#63376) #
For the record, I don't like it; I wish Moffatt would stop saying "coz", it makes it all the more difficult to take anything he says seriously.

Really? I use it all the time in real life too. Nobody's ever brought it to my attention. Odd.

English has always been a dog's breakfast of a language. I can't really take the idea that we're ruining the language seriously, so I'm all for the idea of "accepted language". Mind you, I'm also a guy who says "coz" a lot.


Craig B - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#63377) #
Language is more than a game of Broken Telephone

No, I think any linguist will tell you that language is EXACTLY a game of Broken Telephone.

That said, I agree that it's not a proper use of the word "hone". I also think that what Matthew thinks, or I think, or willy thinks about what a proper use of the word is doesn't matter sausagemeat to a giraffe.
Pepper Moffatt - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#63378) #
Err.. that should be "accepted usage".
Coach - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 02:18 PM EDT (#63379) #
I have some questions for Jerry.

Do you ever get negative callers on live radio who are really just trying to annoy the rest of the audience?

How did you feel about the snub of Joe Carter by the Hall of Fame voters?

Do you think Roberto Alomar is a Hall of Famer?

If you were a player, what would be your scouting report?
_Mick - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#63380) #
No, I think any linguist will tell you that language is EXACTLY a game of Broken Telephone.

I don't drag out the credentials much, but since I have a Master of Arts in Rhetoric & Composition and a Master of Science in Technical Communication (both of which have earned me not much more than the right to say that I have them) and have taught writing at every level from junior high to grad school, let me say this for the record: Craig is exactly, precisely right.

Did you all get that? Coz [irony intended] it ain't comin' from this keyboard again any time soon. CRAIG IS RIGHT.

The language evolves on itself; the latest mutant strain (and I mean that in a loving, positive way) comes to us from the world of instant messaging ... or "IM" as limited screen space demands. IMNSHO, or at least AFAIK, this whole conversation, which could never happen f2f, is ROFL funny.

Oh, and my question for Jerry is more of a request ... plz, plz (that's please, please, FYI ... uh, that's "for your information") ask Jerry to fill out the Box Lineup questionnaire.
Craig B - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#63381) #
Check's in the mail Mick.
_Matthew E - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#63382) #
I think any linguist will tell you that language is EXACTLY a game of Broken Telephone.

With all due respect to Craig and Mick, I have a problem with this. Language is about how people can communicate with each other. Broken Telephone is about how they can't.

I don't deny that there are forces of change at work in the language, and I don't deny that this is a good thing. However, there are also forces of stability, and on their behalf I say that I don't see why changes to the language that are based not on innovation or cultural fusion (to name just a couple of positive things), but rather on people not knowing enough about what's coming out of their own mouths, should be tolerated, let alone accepted or encouraged.
Gitz - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#63383) #
Mick and Craig are right ... and so is Matthew. It's possible to have standards and to accept that English is fluid. We don't need to trek down the dualistic "with us or against us" model; that's the dangerous path, not the debate about whether e-mail or email is correct, or if ROFL has a place in modern language.

Here's my question for Jerry (sorry if it's been asked already): What player would you pay to see play now, and which player from the past would you have paid to see play?
_benum - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#63384) #
If the Jays hired an 18 year old female to do the colour for radio broadcasts, I'd certainly have a problem with the "likes" that would no doubt be streaming forth. I hope that wouldn't be tolerated by the Broken Telephone precedent. ;-)

"So, like, Josh Phelps is at the plate and the pitcher, like totally, stares in for the sign. Josh is all like ready for the pitch and the pitcher is like totally shaking of the catchers signs..."
_Olga Oglive - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#63385) #
Jerry Whowarth?
_Val - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 06:36 PM EDT (#63386) #
Jerry is my friend, too.
Not too much time goes by,
but what I get a nice email from Jerry
filling me in on some personal aspect
of the Blue Jays season that no one else knows about...
It's called the personal touch.
And it's back and forth communication
with a good man...about a really good game.
He calls me Vernon...I call him Uncle Jerry!
_Old Dave - Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 07:37 PM EDT (#63387) #
Craig, up here that's "cheque", unless you're sending a body check in the mail.
_John Currie - Monday, May 24 2004 @ 12:00 AM EDT (#63388) #
We don't get radio coverage of BlueJays games in our area anymore. In 92-93-94 we did - and loved to turn down the TV Sound and listen to Tom and Gerry. They bring a new dimention to the game.
I envy the Toronto Area fans - what a wonderful way to enjoy baseball ! HALL OF FAME'ERS IN MY BOOK !

HI Gerry !
Ask Jerry Howarth | 46 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.