If you knew Jimmie (like I knew Jimmie)
Longtime Detroit Tigers radio announcer Jim Price passed away recently. Anyone who listens to the ballgames may remember how he liked to start each broadcast by saying “It’s a beautiful day…” even when it was cold and rainy. You could just hear the excitement and optimism in his voice.
Price played for the Tigers from 1967-1971. He was part of the 1968 World Series Champions. But even he would joke that he was a much better broadcaster than player. Self-deprecating humor was one of his trademarks.
A lot of people who met Mr. Price have “Jimmie-stories.” I was lucky enough to have met him, and I’d like to share mine. Ironically enough, I did not meet him in Detroit. I met him at a minor league Mud Hens game in Toledo. I’m sure that he would say something about “spending a lot of time down there.”
Back then I was a youngster (8-10) in search of my first autograph. I had blown a chance a few weeks earlier when I was too scared to approach my hero Al Kaline during a Tigers game.
I was on a walkway above a players-only area of the stadium. That is when I spotted Jimmie on the ground below. The distance gave me the courage I needed to call out to him, and he quickly agreed to my request. That’s when the fun began.
I tossed him my ball (after making him promise to give it back), and a pencil that came with my scorecard. It’s all I had. He laughed, tried to find a pen, then signed it anyway. He threw the ball up to me, but I dropped it, three or four times!
Then I wanted my pencil back and things really got funny. Jimmie would throw it up, it would bounce around, and fall right back down. After about a dozen throws, we were both laughing so hard that we could barely talk.
I left the game that day with an autographed ball, my pencil, newfound courage, and a love for the game.
Thank you Jimmie. May you Rest in Peace.