GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Jay Allen, a longtime West Michigan sports announcer who last year fulfilled his dream of announcing at Comerica Park, has died.
Allen, a Holland native who moved to Grand Rapids, died Friday morning, according to a Facebook page following his battle with cancer. He was 60.
He became the public address announcer for the Grand Rapids Hoops in 1993. He filled the same role for the West Michigan Whitecaps briefly in the mid-1990s and for the entire 12-year run of the Grand Rapids Rampage.
When the Rampage and Hoops disbanded, Allen became a car salesman for more than a decade, still occasionally lending his voice to high school games.
In late 2018, he heard the Detroit Tigers needed a new PA announcer. He reached out to express his interest. Initially, he was told they were looking for a candidate who lived closer to Detroit.
But a couple months later, they called him and asked him to come in for an audition. Several weeks later, another call: He had the job.
“I wake up all the time thinking, ‘Is this real? Am I going to be sitting there at Comerica Park? Am I going to be using my voice that the good Lord gave me to expound on the greatness of the Tigers?’ So yes, I am very, very excited,” Allen told Sports Overtime in April 2019, a few days before his first game at Comerica Park.
Then, in August, heart-wrenching news: Allen was diagnosed with stage 4 bile duct cancer. That same day, he drove to Comerica Park to work the game.
“I feel like I’m going in the lion’s den, going in the fire, and I need Jesus by my side and I need a miracle,” he told News 8 in a video call that afternoon. “I’m a firm believer in that I serve a miracle-working God and I don’t think he’s going to show me any different.”
On Wednesday, doctors told Allen’s family he had perhaps a week to live.
“His faith is still strong,” his wife Lisa wrote on Facebook. “He amazes me.”
In a Friday morning statement, the Tigers honored Allen’s “faith, determination and positive mindset during his fight with cancer.”