Ernie Harwell Passes Away at 92

His death was expected. Yet, it still came as a shock. Tonight the
baseball community is  mourning the passing of broadcasting legend Ernie
Harwell.

In honor of Ernie, here is a past post about connecting with the
voice of the Detroit Tigers.

THE ERNIE HARWELL CONNECTION

Thumbnail image for 0713081324.jpg

Despite the efforts of many, including Ernie
Harwell
, Tiger Stadium began to come down in 2008. Crowds
lined the streets of Michigan and Trumbull to watch, film, and to
reminisce about summer days of baseball games played at The Corner.

I was one of the them. Moving along the ballpark’s perimeter, I kept
trying to get a peek through the heavy tarp that draped the fence.
Occasionally, while walking down Trumbull to Michigan Avenue, and over
to Cochrane,
I would find a spot where someone had taken a knife and sliced a hole
big enough to see through.

0802081519.jpg

Although I had been ready for the stadium to come down (and had even
started to embrace the idea), it was difficult to watch its
destruction.

Memories raced through my mind of games with my dad. I recalled
games that my step-son and I watched, and I tried to piece together
vague, flickering images of my grandfather, the proprietor of a
parking lot, guiding cars into their spaces for families going to see
the Tiger’s play ball.

I eased my way back down Trumbull to Cherry Street, then over toward
the freeway. There was a line of cars serving as foot stools for
photographers, and onlookers hoping to grab a glimpse over the fence. I
proceeded up the ramp, over the freeway, for a birds-eye view inside
the ballpark.

As I peered into the yard where boyhood heroes once played, through
my minds-eye, I saw a game played upon the torn field. One voice
pierced through the memories. As the stadium was coming down, I heard
the play-by-play of Ernie Harwell on a sunny, September day when Detroit faced Oakland.

“Well, this is the big day for the maestro, Denny McLain,
Saturday afternoon at Tiger Stadium, September the 14th, 1968, and Denny
will be going for win number 30.” said Harwell
.

I chose to envision this game, because two years earlier I paid a
personal tribute to my grandfather on the 105th anniversary of his
birth. (You can read the original post here.)

This had become a field of
dreams
, and I watched a Tiger’s team from the past play ball
through Ernie’s call of the game.

“Ernie Harwell and Ray Lane at Tiger Stadium, and we’ve
got a dandy here. The Tigers need one to tie and two to go ahead.”

My thoughts slowly shifted from the field. I turned my body, and my
gaze, toward Trumbull.

I closed my eyes.

There was Poppy, at the foot of the driveway, on the sidewalk,
seated in an old aluminum folding chair.

“Denny McLain has gone eight innings for the Tigers… and
now the Tigers send up their leading home run hitter, Willie Horton,
to see what he can do about starting something in the eighth inning.
It’ll be Horton, Cash and Freehan – the middle three batters in Mayo
Smith’s Tigers batting order.”

The Tiger’s tied the score at 4, and with one out in the ninth,
Willie Horton approached home plate.

Poppy inched toward the edge of his seat.

The last pitch was thrown to Horton, while Mickey Stanley on third
edged home. Harwell’s voice, thin through the small speaker, set the
stage,

“… now the count on Horton is 2 balls – 2 strikes.
Campaneris comes in from short to talk to his pitcher – Diego Segui.

A
moment passes, and Harwell continues,

Here’s
the set by Segui. The pitch — swung on! A drive to left… and
that’ll be the ballgame…

The
Tigers win it 5 to 4!

Denny
McLain is one of the first out of the dug-out, racing out… and
Horton is mobbed as the Tigers come from behind, and McLain has his
thirtieth victory of the 1968 season.”

My grandfather heard his voice, my dad heard his voice, and I heard
his voice. Each of us had watched (in the mind’s eye) baseball through
Ernie Harwell. For a few moments that afternoon, his voice connected
cherished members of my past – one more time.

These days, when I hear him speak, I see and hear more than a
ballgame – much more.

The nexus to a time gone by is Ernie Harwell. That is much more than
any mere baseball broadcaster could deliver.

Of course, Ernie
Harwell
was more than a broadcaster. He brought ball games to
life, and made the players heroes. He was our trusted friend, the one
who always got the best seat in the stadium.

Simply put, he made baseball better. Thank-you, Ernie!


Advertisements
This entry was posted in Dailies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Ernie Harwell Passes Away at 92

  1. houndcat08 says:

    Well written, man! Sweet memorial for Ernie. Well done!

    And the memorial for your grandpa – “park here, 50 cents!”. You paint a beautiful picture of great days gone by. That they tore down your grandpa’s house and that gorgeous Tigers Stadium to build – a casino! Well that says everything that has to be said about why we need to kick both the Republicans and the Democrats out of power – they are ruining the country. We need a new working class party that can build a noble future for the workers of this great nation.

    Thanks for the great articles. Keep writing!

    Love,

    Houndcat

  2. dalemurphyfan says:

    Great post! I never got to listen to Ernie as I lived in K.C. Mo. all my life but I can see why he was loved by so many. I’m so thankful for the APBA Game Co. for making him the voice of their game back in the 90’s and I’ve got to listen to him call games from all eras. Everyone should be so fortunate as Tiger fans have been for so many decadeds.
    RIP Ernie,
    Paul

  3. lilmatt says:

    As a White Sox fan, I am not a fan of the Tigers, but I am a fan of Ernie Harwell. How could someone not be? He was a great man and a legendary broadcaster. As someone who has ventured into the broadcast booth myself I have great appreciation for what he did. He will truly be missed.
    –Matt
    “The South Side Story”
    http://giftofgod80.mlblogs.com/

  4. expos_94 says:

    Awesome post, never had a chance to hear him speak (other than that amazing speech he did last September) but everyone speaks very highly of him.
    RIP Ernie Harwell
    Mike
    http://mikebarryu.mlblogs.com/

  5. angelsgirl012 says:

    may he rest in peace. What a true gentleman he was. He will be missed by many many people in baseball. He was so loved đŸ™‚

    http://mimi.mlblogs.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s