Just a thought… There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books. [Irving Stone]
Before we get into today’s journal, I just wanted to share with you my post for Walmart this week. In our house, April is always brightened by a certain birthday, but there’s no reason why you can’t bring some spring into your place, via the best possible April Showers!
One of Rob’s and my favourite birthday memories is when I booked a suite at the then-Skydome Hotel and invited friends over for snacks and to watch an Opening Day Blue Jays game! We had a great time – lots of laughs and fun – until we tried to sleep there that night and had to listen to leaf blowers cleaning popcorn out of the seating area. It was brutal – but still memorable. Suffice to say, I was plenty pooped for the radio show the next day!
For lots of wonderful baseball memories told by a man who watched and shared the best moments with us all, I can’t recommend highly enough a new book by longtime Blue Jays radio broadcaster Jerry Howarth. His new memoir, Hello, Friends: Stories from my Life and Blue Jays Baseball, is filled with tales of encounters and conversations with players, as well as his own journey to broadcasting fame (with plenty of pitfalls and tears along the way). Jerry, of course, was one half of the famous Tom (Cheek) & Jerry Blue Jays broadcast duo and he’s an exceptional writer and story-teller.
As both a broadcaster and a fan of Jerry, one of my favourite anecdotes in the book is how, in his minor-league days, he would be joined in his booth by the stadium organist. A big fan of the game, she was visually impaired and counted on Jerry to tell her what was happening on the field, between her stints at the keyboard. From that day forward, Jerry always called play-by-play for Ginny, the baseball fan who couldn’t see the field. If that isn’t a perfect analogy for radio, then what is?
In 2015, Jerry reached out to Rob and to me the day after Lauren died so that he could share his own family tragedy – the passing of a niece, also in her sleep – and console us. I’ve never forgotten that vast kindness and generosity. So when we were connected this year by former Jays broadcaster (and now afternoon host on Sauga960 AM) Barry Davis, Jerry and I picked up where we left off – which was with a huge hug and kiss in Seattle two summers ago.
We decided to send each other’s book (do you know it costs $27 to mail a book to Ontario????) and have been writing back and forth. Jerry’s a hoot – he’ll write to me and cite pages and paragraphs and his jokes and insight about them. As we’ve continued to connect, we’ve had such a lovely experience. And as his book continues to climb the bestsellers’ list, we’re chirping at each other like teammates going for the same record he’s planning on unseating me, and so on.
The photo above is courtesy: joseph michael photography / firstname.lastname@example.org / instagram @photojoecanada. Now, as much as I would hate for anyone to BUY THIS BOOK for Father’s Day (ahem) and for Jerry to surpass me in sales, I’ll give him this plug and this space! Don’t you dare pass me, Jerry!
I’m kidding, of course. We’ve had a wonderful time going through this experience together and I wish him every success. This American-born Canadian citizen left his beloved play-by-play job due to complications from surgery: a tube down his throat during prostate cancer treatment left him with injured vocal cords.
Now he enjoys time on the field, more time at home in the GTA with a beautiful grandson (of whom he sends pictures every now and then) and with his wife Mary. He has two grown sons and I am grateful to Joe for taking that lovely shot of Jerry with both of our books. Thanks, Jerry. Getting to know you – through your book and our friendship online – has been a real pleasure and an honour.
With love and thanks (and yeah, good luck with your book)…