Tigers former catcher and radio analyst Jim Price dies at age 81

Bless You Boys

Former Detroit Tigers’ catcher Jim Price, a member of the classic 1968 World Series winning team, has passed away at the age of 81.

Price had a five-year run as a major leaguer, all of which he played for the Tigers. The club acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1967 and called him up. Price would play for the Tigers from 1967-1971.

Of course, for most of us, Price is best known and will long be remembered as a color commentator on Tigers’ radio broadcasts, and in particular for his over two decades partnership with play-by-play man Dan Dickerson.

Price’s charm, deep collection of sayings and bits, along with his banter with Dickerson endeared him to Tigers’ fans. As someone old enough to have grown up with Ernie Harwell, it’s easy to imagine that Price’s voice and steady stream of Price-isms will remain treasured memories for younger fans in the same way Harwell remains the radio voice of my childhood. His partnership with Dickerson helped elevate them both as the worthiest successors to the legacy of Harwell and the television duo of George Kell and Al Kaline.

Price was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on October 13, 1941. He signed with the Pirates in 1960 and was the organization’s minor league Player of the Year in 1963. After the Tigers traded for him, Price made his major league debut on April 11, 1967, and hit 18 home runs in 676 plate appearances and 261 games in which he appeared.

After his retirement, Price met future Detroit Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch in 1979 when the former catcher played for Ilitch’s Detroit Caesars in the short-lived American Professional Slow Pitch Softball League.

He made his first foray into broadcasting with the APSPL, eventually breaking through as the color analyst on PASS Sports Tigers cable telecasts in 1993. In 1998 he started with the Detroit Tigers Radio Network, working alongside Harwell from 1999-2002, before his 20-year partnership with Dickerson began.

Dickerson and Price were right on time, as within a few years the Tigers embarked on one of the best stretches in franchise history from 2006-2014. During those years, Price’s endless collection of sayings and stories made him a treasured part of the broadcast and a perfect counterpoint to Dickerson’s polished professionalism.

Terms like yellow hammer, buggy-whip, and elaborations on the good looks and intelligence of catchers over other ballplayers, all entered the lexicon of Detroit sports, and baseball broadcasting generally. When I describe a pitcher’s “arsenal” or note a pitch’s “late movement,” Price’s voice will probably always come to mind.

In the days to come, there will plenty of reminiscences and Jim Price stories told and re-told. His charm and storytelling made him the type of guy stories are then told about. A compendium of his sayings is a must for understanding the language of Tigers’ baseball over the last 25 years or more. We at Bless You Boys will miss him, and send our condolences to his family and his many co-workers and friends over the years.

Apart from his baseball and broadcasting career, Jim and Lisa Price established the charity, Jack’s Place for Autism, providing services, referrals, and education on autism resources, back in 2002. Links and information on how to make donations in Price’s honor can be found here.

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