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#1 Legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell dies at 9205-04-2010, 09:40 PM
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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05-04-2010, 10:49 PM
He was truly one of the classic announcers. My all time favorite baseball announcers go in this order:
Harry Kalas(only because he was the Phillies announcer)
Ernie Harwell has one of the greatest poems about baseball:
Baseball is the President tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm. A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout. That's baseball. And so is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home one of his 714 home runs.
There's a man in Mobile who remembers that Honus Wagner hit a triple in Pittsburgh forty-six years ago. That's baseball. So is the scout reporting that a sixteen year old pitcher in Cheyenne is a coming Walter Johnson. Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed. And then becomes a statistic.
In baseball democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color merely something to distinguish one team's uniform from another.
Baseball is a rookie. His experience no bigger than the lump in his throat as he begins fulfillment of his dream. It's a veteran too, a tired old man of thirty-five hoping that those aching muscles can pull him through another sweltering August and September. Nicknames are baseball, names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Dazzy.
Baseball is the cool, clear eyes of Rogers Hornsby. The flashing spikes of Ty Cobb, an over aged pixie named Rabbit Maranville.
Baseball just a game as simple as a ball and bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion.
Why the fairy tale of Willie Mays making a brilliant World's Series catch. And then dashing off to play stick ball in the street with his teenage pals. That's baseball. So is the husky voice of a doomed Lou Gehrig saying., "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”
Baseball is cigar smoke, hot roasted peanuts, The Sporting News, ladies day, "Down in Front", Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and the Star Spangled Banner.
Baseball is a tongue tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown. This is a game for America. Still a game for America, this baseball!The Obama Administration: Deny. Deflect. Blame.
05-04-2010, 11:06 PM
I grew up listening to Ernie. He was an icon around these parts. I guess we knew it was coming but still --.
Truly one of the greats.
05-04-2010, 11:11 PMThe Obama Administration: Deny. Deflect. Blame.
05-05-2010, 12:18 AM
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I grew up listening to him as well. His voice on the radio has been missed for several years now, but he has remained a presence in the Detroit area even after his retirement.
Ernie was an excellent storyteller and had a wonderful ability to weave a story into calling the game.
For those that don't know him, here's a quick synopsis. His speech at the end, when he knew he was dying of cancer, sums it up about the man and why he is so revered here in the Detroit area.
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