DETROIT -- Joe Siddall used to spend his afternoons on the mound at Comerica Park, preparing Tigers hitters for their upcoming opponents. On Tuesday, he returned for the first time as the voice of the opponent.
For the former Tigers catcher turned Blue Jays broadcaster, it was a sweet return out of tragic circumstances.
"This is nice. It's almost like a three-day holiday for me," said Siddall, who lives across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario.
For several years, the Tigers served as Siddall's connection to the game. He was a regular pitching batting practice during homestands. He got to know many players and staff, but still had enough free time at home to be a dad and a coach for his children.
He had thought about coaching or broadcasting someday, but wanted to wait until his kids were grown up. The Siddalls' world changed, however, when their 14-year-old son Kevin was diagnosed with cancer last fall.
Kevin passed away in February. Among the letters of condolences he received was an email from Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth. Joe Siddall thanked him for the kind words and ended the note by saying he'd maybe see him in the broadcast booth one day. Howarth replied by offering him a chance now.
The Blue Jays were searching for a broadcaster after Jack Morris returned to Minnesota. Siddall didn't have much experience, but he had knowledge of the game, and he had a need for something to do to take his mind off of tragedy. He auditioned in Spring Training and was hired soon after.
Since then, Siddall has followed every step of the Blue Jays' ride to first place, staying at a hotel in Toronto for home games. This week marks his first return home since April.
"It's like being a player again," he said of the schedule.
The Blue Jays arrived in town in first place, making this the first Blue Jays-Tigers series featured two first-place teams since April 2007. Siddall arrived in a suit, readying to work the series for Blue Jays television. He said he has gotten more than his fair share of ribbing that he brought the Tigers' karma to Toronto with him.
"This is what I see every year, right?" he said with a smile.