George Kell had one of those voices that, like that of his one-time broadcast partner Ernie Harwell, was a defining sound of summer.
Kell passed away earlier today at the age of 86, but his speaking manner and signature words and phrases are sure to live on in the minds of Detroit Tigers fans long into the future. He held my attention for years with his unique style, especially when he was paired in the TV booth with Al Kaline, a truly inspired combination. While Kell was superlative on the air, it's important to remember that he also was a top-flight ballplayer himself. His stellar play at third base (the "hot corner") and as a batter (career average, .306) for the Tigers and other major league teams in the 1940s and 1950s earned him a ticket to baseball's Hall of Fame. Kudos to Doug Karsch and Scott Anderson from local radio station 97.1 FM "The Ticket" for essentially devoting their entire broadcast today to Kell's memory, and for allowing fans to call in with personal stories and impressions of his instantly recognizable voice, all heartfelt and many of them absolutely hilarious. When I was growing up, it seemed everybody tried to mimic Kell, and the adage "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" applied completely. Two of my favorite Kell-isms were "high skies" and the classic "tempra-tour" as in 'Good afternoon, and welcome to Tiger Stadium. We've got high skies (translation: sunny, no clouds) and a tempra-tour of 75 degrees. We're ready to go.'