Baseball Hall of Famer George Kell died Tuesday in Arkansas. I don't know Kell the player, I know Kell the Tigers announcer and Kell the gentleman.
When I moved to the Midwest 20 years ago, George Kell was one of the first baseball voices I heard. I would watch and listen to his broadcasts of Tigers games with Al Kaline. Kell's southern accent and easy going style made watching Tigers games fun during a time when Tigers baseball wasn't that great to watch.
Two years ago I met George Kell the gentleman. I met him while I was at an MAB Show in New Jersey. I was waiting in line and talking to other collectors when George Kell stopped by and talked to us. He shook everyone's hand, asked how we were all doing, and talked for a few minutes before making his way to the autograph tables. He didn't have to do that. He didn't have to say hello and he didn't have to stop and talk. But that's not who George Kell was.
I didn't plan on getting his autograph that day, but after meeting him I changed my mind. I went back to the cashier station and bought an autograph ticket for this grandfather figure. George Kell wasn't my favorite player and he wasn't on my favorite team, but it didn't matter. On that day he became one of my favorite hall of fame players and I'm fortunate to have his autograph on a baseball.