Tuesday, March 24, 2009

George Kell, RIP

"Hello again everyone, George Kell along with Al Kaline..."

"Hello, George."

These were the words that rang through our locker room before baseball games when I was in high school. They were burned into our minds by the Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer third baseman and right fielder as they sat in the broadcast booth for the television broadcasts of the Tigers of our youths. I would imitate Kell and my friend Ken would do the voice for Al Kaline and we'd run through the lineups as we knew them. We'd easily slip into the patter of the veteran voices, and do play-by-play.

"He hit it like a shot." That was one of my favorite descriptions that George Kell would use, the emphasis solidly on the last word.

George Kell was known long before I was born as the guy who beat out Ted Williams for the batting crown of 1949 in a race so close that the statisticians had to take it out to the fourth decimal place, .3429 to .3427. I only knew him as a broadcaster, but I listened to his voice more than probably any other in my turbulent childhood. There's something to be said about being there every day to provide comfort. I'll miss him.

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