Ernie’s Good-bye to Fans

Photo by Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
From, The House by the Side of the Road, by Sam Walter Foss

One sunny, late summer morning, I had been preparing to take my
seventy-nine year old mother to the hospital for an out-patient
procedure. While I was finishing a cup of lukewarm coffee, I turned on
the television to catch the latest traffic conditions.

As the
commercial came to an end, a newscaster from Fox 2 glared into the
camera, met my eye, and delivered the heart-wrenching news – Ernie Harwell has incurable cancer. Then, the report took on a more ominous tone – the beloved Detroit Tiger’s broadcaster would not seek treatment.

It took a moment, but I realized that this was the end of the road – the end of the season – for Ernie Harwell.

Ernie Harwell was not just a part of baseball – he had been a vital part of my life.
Throughout the years, the hall of fame broadcaster had welcomed me back
to Michigan when my family had been away on vacation. He had
accompanied me when I took a girl out on a date (thankfully, I chose my
dates well, and they never seemed to mind). I enjoyed lunch with him on
opening day, when I turned on the radio to hear the play by play of
that first game of the season. Also, there were the nights (as a young
boy), I would curl up on a chair in the corner of the living room, and
his was the last voice I would hear before falling asleep.

I still find it hard to believe.

I am amazed
by the strength that Ernie Harwell has shown. He is a man of tremendous
faith, and will be to the end. Some, who have been handed a death
sentence, would have retreated into a world of self-pity, others may
have preferred privacy. I am certain that not many would have spent
their last days publicly saying good-bye to family, friends, and fans.

Ernie knows
how much we cherish him. May I offer, that through his public
farewells, he has shown that he feels the same toward us.

Truly, it takes a special individual who can stand in front of a crowd of thousands, acknowledge his time here is nigh, and say,

It’s a wonderful night for me. I really feel lucky to be here, and I want to thank you for the warm welcome.

In
my almost 92 years on this Earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a
great journey,” he said. “And the blessed part of that journey is, it’s
going to end in the great state of Michigan.

I wasn’t able to be at Comerica Park when Ernie Harwell addressed
the crowd. For those who were, it was undoubtedly unforgettable and
poignant.

I found this on You Tube, taken from a fan’s perspective.  Be sure to have Kleenex with you while you watch.

I am a collector of baseball broadcasts, and one Detroit Tiger’s
game in particular had special meaning for me.  Watch for that post
next week.

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5 Responses to Ernie’s Good-bye to Fans

  1. ez_mac71 says:

    I live across the river in Windsor. Ernie Harwell is a huge part of my personal baseball history. I can’t begin to remember how many games I listened to with my grandma (who passed a few years ago) that Ernie was the voice of. I am not even a Tigers fan but I am a HUGE Ernie Harwell fan. The day he goes, a piece of me goes too. Cheers.

    Steve

    http://ez-mac71.mlblogs.com/

  2. angelsgirl012 says:

    What an incredible human being. He’s such a humble and loving person not to mention a wonderful announcer. Though I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to him I know that he is very respected amongst the Tiger community. I wish him nothing but the best.

    great blog entry! His goodbye brought tears to my eyes.

  3. angelsgirl012 says:

    p.s. best of luck to the Tigers next season!

    http://mimi.mlblogs.com

  4. Skip says:

    Ez-Mac, and Mimi, thank-you for your comments. While I am writing these posts about Ernie, I am reminded of so many different pieces of my life growing up. As a broadcaster he brought us games, as a man he brought us together. He is very dear to our baseball community. Thanks for reading.

  5. mattpeas says:

    awesome video! a great man and a great voice. i love legendary announcers

    http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

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