Ernie Harwell, the acclaimed Tigers broadcaster whose eloquence and kindness made him a beloved Michigan institution, died Tuesday night after a nearly year-long bout with cancer. He was 92.

He died in his apartment at Fox Run Village, a retirement center in Novi, with Lulu, his wife of 68 years, at his side. His death came eight months to the day after he revealed to his fans, in an interview with the Free Press, that he had a cancerous tumor in the area of his bile duct and that in late July he had been given only a few months to live.

Harwell had one of the longest runs by a broadcaster with one major league club, calling Tigers games for 42 seasons. For the first 32 of those seasons, he made and cemented his legacy by doing play-by-play on the radio. His Southern voice — rich and authoritative but not overbearing — became as distinctive to Michigan listeners as baseball itself.

Unlike some announcers in recent decades, Harwell didn’t litter his broadcasts with shouting, excessive talking or all-knowing pronouncements about players and managers. Listening to him was as pleasant as being at Tiger Stadium in the summertime. As he fell silent between pitches, listeners got to hear the sounds of the ballpark — the crowd’s buzz, the vendor’s cry — and absorb the rhythm of the game. Harwell thus became an ideal companion for a listener anywhere: the couch, the yard, the car or the boat.

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