On Monday night, longtime Tigers radio analyst and former World Series Champion, Jim Price, passed away at the age of 81.
“All of us with the Detroit Tigers are deeply saddened to learn of Jim Price’s passing,” said Tigers Chairman and CEO, Chris Ilitch. “Jim was a champion on the field, in the broadcast booth, and throughout the community. That Jim was with the organization for much of his life, doing what he loved, is such a powerful sign of his dedication and loyalty to the Tigers and the city of Detroit. Those are among the many reasons Jim was one of my mother and father’s favorite people, and they had such a strong relationship for many years. The thoughts of my family, and everyone across baseball, are with Jim’s wife, Lisa, and the entire Price family.”
Price debuted with the Tigers in 1967 and played five seasons wearing the Olde English ‘D’, including a key role on one of the greatest teams in franchise history that won a World Series Championship in 1968. After his playing career, he joined the organization in numerous capacities, and became known for his role in the broadcast booth – which included calling games alongside Frank Beckmann, Ernie Harwell and Dan Dickerson.
“This is such sad news,” Dickerson said. “Jim and I were together for 24 seasons, and experienced both ends of the spectrum with our beloved Tigers – from a tough season in the first year after Ernie retired, to two trips to the World Series. Jim helped get me through that first season, which made what happened three years later all the sweeter.
“My favorite memories working with Jim were the days when Al Kaline would stop in the booth – and I’d get to hear them tell stories, swap some tall tales, just make each other laugh about something from the past, or current day. The ’68 team was my team – the team that got me hooked on baseball, and I loved hearing all about the wildly different personalities that made up that team. And learning about things like the origins of Jim’s famous “Yellowhammer” – his colorful description of a good breaking ball. Jim said it came from teammate Pat Dobson and was named after a bird. So one day, we looked it up – and sure enough, a Yellowhammer is a bird that is known for its ability to sharply dart down and away, just like a good curveball. We both got such a kick out of discovering that, and it always added to the moment whenever Jim would break it out – and then we could share a laugh, knowing the history behind the word. “Buggywhip”, “Qualify the speed of the runner”, “Cut the pie” – “Yellowhammer” – these folksy “Jim-isms” were what made him such a fan favorite. As well as the way he connected us to the past, and to one of the greatest teams (he always said “the greatest”) in franchise history. Every time I see a good curveball, I can’t help but think of Jim. I’m sure he won’t mind if I break out the occasional Yellowhammer when I do. He will be missed.”
Throughout his post-playing career, Price remained close with many in baseball, but especially his former teammates. He was very close with the late Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline, and hometown hero, Willie Horton.
“This is an incredibly sad day for the Tigers family,” said 1968 World Series Champion and current Special Assistant to the President of Baseball Operations, Willie Horton. “Jimmy was one of a kind, and one of the best ambassadors for the organization since he retired as a player. He was an incredible teammate and friend to so many, and his impact will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with Lisa and all of Jim’s family.”