Opinion: Remembering the boisterous voice and loving soul of Jerry Young

Published 8:20 am Monday, January 15, 2024

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

Sitting in the press box of Paterson Field in Montgomery, I was settled in to cover the first game of a best-of-three series for the 2019 Class 5A State Baseball Championship between Briarwood and Springville.

As the first inning got underway, the nerves of covering any big event featuring our local teams hit me, but then, out of nowhere, as the first play in the field was made, a loud, boisterous voice calling play-by-play shouted with excitement.

The first play of the game, and it sounded like the final out of the World Series.

I had crossed paths with Jerry Young on multiple occasions leading up to that, but that was the first time I really understood just how special he was.

Sadly, Young passed away suddenly this past week on Jan. 12, just a few days after his 67th birthday.

As I reflected more and more on that night covering the first game of the Class 5A State Championship nearly five years ago, I realize how much more confidence that moment gave me moving forward.

Young, in the middle of a press box full of print journalists, didn’t care that he was the outlier as the only broadcaster in the room.

As he shouted out the details of the first play and every ball and strike after, he did it with more confidence and excitement than anyone else would have in that setting.

Some looked on shocked, others laughed and smiled, knowing the charismatic person in the room with them, while others enjoyed the added ambience to the atmosphere of a state championship game at the high school level.

From that moment forward, I gained a respect for Young that I have to this day.

We got to know each other better and better over the years with his work for the Warrior Nation Network covering Thompson athletics as a broadcaster.

Every time we crossed paths the past five years, he always greeted me with a smile and a, “Hey Alec, how’s everything going?”

We’d then jump into talking about the paper, the hottest sports topics or life itself.

One thing, however, that stood out more than most was his joy.

As we talked, and I talked about stress, he’d always talk so glowingly about everything.

Sure, not everything was perfect in his life, but he had a zealous joy for it no matter the occasion.

I tried my best to think of a time that I didn’t see Young walk into a room with a smile on his face, and I kid you not when I say I can’t remember a single time.

That says all you need to know about the person he was, the outlook he had on life, the care he had for other people and the love he had for every second of work he did as an advocate for high school sports both in Shelby County and across this state.

He carried the same passion for broadcasting, calling every game like it was the Super Bowl or World Series, as he did for life, living every day like it was the biggest event.

That incredible attitude is one that gave me more confidence, realizing that if he can have that outlook daily, if he can sit in the middle of a press box and go all out, so can I.

And it’s that attitude that inspired many others in local journalism as well, including some up-and-coming broadcasters and play-by-play announcers.

Because of that, his boisterous voice will now be louder than ever, while the world will be a better place because of the example he set.