Al Ackerman, longtime Detroit sports caster on WXYZ Channel 7 and WDIV Channel 4, has died at age 90 at his home in Florida, according to reports. He is perhaps best known for coining the phrase "Bless You Boys," which became the rallying cry of the Detroit Tigers on their run to the World Series title in 1984.
At the time, Ackerman was known as a hard hitting sports journalist, not afraid to voice his opinion and blast local coaches and players when he felt it necessary. He earned the nickname "Acid Al" for his snark and unrelenting question-and-answer tactics. Ackerman worked the evening and late night newscasts delivering the sports for WDIV from 1964 to 1972, then spent seven years with rival ABC affiliate WXYX, before returning to channel 4 in 1979.
The phrase "Bless You Boys" was actually first used by Ackerman as a sarcastic expression of relief following a Tigers win in 1983, when wins were hard to come by. The phrase was also used later in a book that was Co-Written by Sparky Anderson, detailing his diary of the championship season in 1984, along with Detroit News Columnist, Dan Ewald.
Ackerman's family released this statement on the passing of Al Ackerman:
"Devotedly by his side was Terese Ann, his wife of 40 years. He is also survived by daughter Suzanne McGlone Drake (husband Stuart and grandson Evan) of Great Falls, Virginia; daughter Trudy McGlone (granddaughters Lauren and Leah Draland) of Chicago; and sister-in-law Mary Handleman (husband Philip) of Birmingham and Oxford, Michigan. He was preceded in death by son Michael.
To call Ackerman "opinionated" would be a gross understatement. He was fired by channel 4 in 1972 for providing what his editors thought was too much commentary. He was definitely a change of pace from sportscasters who are afraid to challenge team management and players who are not performing up to expectations. A fitting tribute was written by Greg Eno here at BYB in 2014.
Bless you, Al. Rest in peace.