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Ernie Harwell: 1918-2010

May 4, 2010, 8:39 PM EDT

Harwell broadcasting.jpgI knew this day was coming since September. It actually came later than I thought it would, based on all we heard about his diagnosis. But neither its inevitability nor its delay softens my sorrow. Ernie Harwell has died at the age of 92

I wrote this back in September, but it bears repeating: I was a nervous kid, afraid of the dark and afraid of going to sleep
myself. My parents let me turn on the radio at night as I went to bed
and the talk, rather than the music, made me feel better. The voice
that gave me the most comfort was Ernie Harwell’s voice on WJR, which I
latched onto before I even truly realized it was describing a baseball
game.

Ernie put me to sleep most spring and summer nights for several years,
teaching me about baseball in the process. He also taught me that I
could enjoy it just as much if I could not actually see it, which I
can’t help but think is the reason why I enjoy writing up the “And That
Happened” recaps every day. I see very few of the games I
describe, but just because I don’t see them doesn’t mean that there
isn’t a story to be told. Information and flavor to be teased out.

Maybe you always have a thing for your first love, but I think I’m being
objective when I say that I have never encountered a better baseball
broadcaster than Ernie Harwell. How lucky that I had him putting me to
sleep when I was four years old as opposed to someone else. Would I
have even been a baseball fan if it was someone else’s voice on the
radio? I kinda doubt it.

Farwell, Ernie. Your like or equal will never be seen again. 

  1. John F - May 5, 2010 at 11:52 PM

    I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell and George Kell broadcast the Detroit Tigers games in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I can still hear Ernie’s voice giving the play-by-playsin my mind. I remember Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Bill Freehan, Jim Northrup, and Ernie Harwell.
    All the memories seem like they happened just yesterday. Ernie Harwell’s gift to me will live on and on until I die.
    Maybe we’ll all meet again.

  2. Jim S - May 6, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby when I heard the news (couldn’t even hide it from my wife), even though we knew it was coming. I’m sure there were many a grown man wiping away tears.
    Like everyone else, I grew up with the transistor radio in my bed, listening to Ernie (and Paul) on those warm summer nights. And Saturday afternoons (not many of those games, anymore) on the front porch. Like another poster said, you could hear the echoes of numerous radios on the block, all with Ernie describing the latest endeavors of “Stormin'” Norman Cash, Jim Northrup, Mickey Lolich, Aurelio Rodriguez, and the gang.
    Sure do feel older than my 47 years now. All the greats are going. Glad to hear Vin Scully telling a story about Ernie the other night.
    RIP Ernie. A gentleman and a gentle soul that will truly be missed.

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