Before Timber Joey roamed the Portland Timbers sidelines with his chainsaw, there was Timber Jim.
Jim Serrill, who after retiring from log-cutting duties in 2008 became the only non-player to have his name added to the Timbers Ring of Honor, began coming to games during the Timbers' NASL era and returned in 2001 when the USL version was created. He cut slabs of logs for every Portland goal-scorer in the North End in front of the Timbers Army, hung from the rafters banging on a drum, and would climb an 80-foot spar poll in the corner of the stadium to get the Portland faithful fired up.
Timber Jim was also at the center of the creation of a Timbers Army tradition: The singing of "You Are My Sunshine" in the 80th minute of every home match. Though the song is a happy one, and given the often rain-soaked matches, a constant injection of hope of brightness, the origins of the soccer tradition come from a sadder place
The Oregonian's Jason Quick writes an emotional article that tells the story of how Serrill has taken the personal tragedy of losing his daughter Hannah in a car accident , and with time and a beautiful song, helped transform it with newfound hope. Along with his granddaugther Keiana--who survived the crash--Serrill believes the song has become an expression of happiness not just for him, but for thousands of fans.
Quick describes the first time the song was sung:
Weeks after Hannah's memorial service, Serrill returned to a Timbers match.
"When I came back, the first thing I did was climb the pole and stay up there.'' Serrill says. "I hauled up all the flowers people brought. There was a huge bouquet. And I brought a sunflower.''
When the Timbers scored, he honored the goal with his customary sawing off a slab from a log.
"I cut the log and then I looked out and everybody is crying,'' Serrill remembers. "Then I just felt like I needed to sing.''
It turned out to be a moment in Timbers history that would live on.