RIP George Kell

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

George Kell was a Tigers TV announcer from 1959 to 1996, a period of 37 years that covered three Division titles, two Detroit World Series, and hundreds of Tigers players. If you watched the Tigers at all during those years, you heard him calling the games and reminiscing about the Tigers teams of old.

He played 15 seasons himself in the Majors, including a little over six seasons with the Tigers. He went to the All Star game five times as a big cat, and in 1949 he hit .343 to beat out Ted Williams for the batting title. Never a big slugger, Kell was an excellent defensive third baseman for most of his career and batted over .300 nine times.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. On his plaque he’s wearing the Olde English D.

Former Detroit Tigers player and broadcaster George Kell passed away today. He was 86.

7 responses to “RIP George Kell

  1. Hard not to say the usual sentimental stuff–it’s all true. As a too-poor-for-cable Toledo kid, I could watch the Channel 4 games with the clunky wire antenna stretched out horizontally, squinting through the static. Kell and Kaline. Old school. RIP.

  2. I have missed him calling games for years now. Although usually once or twice a summer we could be treated to an update or two about Kell.
    Here’s hoping he can be watching over a special season for the Tigers this year. Everyone would always say how he watched the Tigers all the time on his Satellite TV. Hopefully some of his Tiger spirit can infuse our cats this year.

  3. Oh. I hadn’t heard this news yet. I feel a bit like a distant relative has just died. I grew up watching Kell and Kaline on TV. I still remember how amazed I was when I found out they had both once played ball! To me, at least back then, they were broadcasters first, and their voices were as familiar to me as Ernie and Paul’s.

  4. I just heard and any time a hall of famer passes it is sad, especially a Tiger.

  5. Who can forget “He hit that one a mahhll, Al”?
    And whenever Al Kaline (as much as we love him to pieces, mind you) would mispronounce a player’s name, George always stepped in and got it right a few seconds later.

  6. We were very lucky to have George Kell and Ernie Harwell in Detroit

  7. Kell was a Detroit favorite when I was a kid. I had many of his baseball cards. My friends and I were very mad when he was traded to the Red Sox. The Tigers were very fortunate to have 3 Hall of Famers on their broadcast team; Kell, Kaline and Harwell. Their wealth of baseball knowledge was unbeatable. George was a good ol’ southern player from Swifton, Arkansas, with a special way of talking. When he and Al Kaline broadcast Tigers games together, I remember his Kell-isms such as,”They might be gonna make a pitching change, Al” or, when a Tiger made a mistake in executing fundamentals, he’d say, “If we did that when we played, Al, we’d be on the bus to Toledo (AAA) tonight” and, as Jeff said, when a long home run was hit, he say “He hit it a mile, Al”. The old former players added real color to announcing. I was at the last game at old Tiger Stadium in 1999 and, after the game, most of the former, living Tigers who wore the Old English “D” made an appearance and Kell was one of them. I believe that was the last time I saw him. I’ll miss him. Good bye, George, and thanks for the memories.

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