Jay Allen, who landed dream job as Tigers' P.A. announcer, dies of cancer at 60

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Jay Allen, whose calm voice welcomed hundreds of thousands of Tigers fans to Comerica Park during the 2019 season as the ballclub's public-address announcer, has died after a short battle with bile-duct cancer, his family announced Friday. 

Allen was 60.

Allen got the coveted P.A. job prior to last season, after working a variety of sporting events for several years in Grand Rapids. He replaced long-time P.A. man Bobb Vergiels, who retired after 2018.

Jay Allen, the Tigers' P.A. announcer, has died at age 60.

The Tigers' gig was Allen's dream job.

"Yesterday was one of the most fulfilling days of my life," Allen wrote on Facebook last April 5, after debuting on Opening Day. "To be able to do something that I truly love to do, at a facility like Comerica Park can not be put into words."

During an annual physical in July, doctors found masses throughout Allen's body. Further tests in August — shortly before his 28th anniversary with wife Lisa Lynn —revealed it was Stage 4 cancer, on which he immediately began intense treatment.

During the ordeal, friends, family and fans rallied around him, with benefits and community fundraisers.

"The Detroit Tigers are deeply saddened to learn that the club's public-address announcer, Jay Allen, passed away this morning," the Tigers said in a statement Friday. "Everyone admired Jay's faith, determination and positive mindset during his fight with cancer. His vocal passion for the Tigers and sports across the state of Michigan endeared him to millions of fans, and his impact will never be forgotten.

"The Tigers extend their condolences to Jay's family and friends at this trying time."

Allen's family also released a statement on Facebook on Friday.

"It is with a broken heart that I would like to share that Jay passed away at about 7:55am," the statement read. "It was peaceful and he was surrounded by all of his family and some of our friends. We need to wrap our heads around this today but we will share the details as they come. We love you!"

Jay Allen worked one season as the Tigers' P.A. announcer.

Allen lived in Grand Rapids, and was born in Holland, attending Holland High School. He worked at Fox Ford Mazda in Kentwood as a sales associate.

But his passions truly were family, faith and sports. He was the P.A. announcer for a number of teams in West Michigan, including the old Grand Rapids Hoops and the Grand Rapids Rampage, which have disbanded, and the West Michigan Whitecaps for a while. Allen also called the action at Berlin Raceway in Marne, worked at multiple radio stations, and was a regular on the high-school sports circuit.

Then, last winter, the Tigers came calling, and Allen made the two-plus-hour commute for the Tigers' home games. A small price to pay for the gig of a lifetime.

"This is as good as it gets," he told WOODTV 8 last May.

Allen is survived by his wife and three children, two daughters and a son.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984