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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

God Bless You Too, Ernie

The voice of Tiger Baseball, Ernie Harwell, died on Tuesday at the age of 92. Ernie - as he was known by all - was a relic of the Great Lakes State and someone whose voice, I won't ever forget.

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.

I got to know Ernie by listening to his voice in the garage on rainy Saturdays when my brother would sit for hours in his aluminum rocking chair with transistor radio at his side. Ernie Harwell was a brand name; a registered trademark of the Motor City.

Quotable Ernie:
"In baseball, democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rule book. And color, merely something to distinguish one team's uniform from another's.


"Baseball? Just a game — as simple as a ball and bat. And yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes."

"I'm ready to face what comes," he said at the time. "Whether it's a long time or a short time is all right with me because it's up to my Lord and savior."

We'll all miss you Ernie...rest in peace.


Entire article: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/al/tigers/2010-05-04-ernie-harwell-obit_N.htm

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