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Mitch Albom is writing a play about Ernie Harwell. Oy.

Oct 7, 2010, 12:30 PM EDT

I'm guessing that this will not be one of the five plays I watch in Heaven.

Ernie Harwell was humble. He was genuine. He was thoughtful. In other words, he was just about everything that Mitch Albom is not. Which makes it all the more painful that Albom is doing this:

Best-selling author Mitch Albom is planning a stage play based on the life of the late Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell. Albom
said Thursday that the show called “Ernie” will premiere next year at
the City Theatre in Detroit. Casting will begin in November.Albom says Harwell’s “story transcends sports” and “is a rich and wonderful subject for the stage.”

Know what else was cool about Ernie Harwell? He never thought that he “transcended sports” at all. You listened to a Tigers game, you got the Tigers game. Expertly announced, of course, but it was about the Tigers game.  If Harwell made a public appearance, you can bet your life that 97% of his time and effort would be spent talking about Bobby Thomson, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Kirk Gibson or Bobby Higginson, not Ernie Harwell. Or at least not unless he was goaded into doing so by an interviewer or panelist.

That said, I think a play about Ernie Harwell could be pretty cool. I just think Mitch Albom is probably the least-equipped person on the planet to do it. 

  1. sbuffum - Oct 7, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    M. Night Shamalyan would be worse, but Mitch Albom is close enough to shake his hand.
    On the other hand, I look forward to Leonard Pinth-Garnell’s review.

  2. TC - Oct 7, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    I will never forget when ESPN had him on for “Legends Week” or some such thing. Morgan and Miller tried to talk about Ernie, to Ernie, while Ernie just kept calling the game. On and on. Great announcer.

  3. nps6724 - Oct 7, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    I don’t know a ton about Mitch Albom except he wrote a book I had to read in 11th grade. Why all the hate?

  4. PaulKersey - Oct 7, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    http://deadspin.com/5591618/last-nights-winner-whatevers-left-of-sportswritings-conscience
    http://deadspin.com/5644264/playing-down-to-your-audience
    Those links are a good start. Sorry they’re both Deadspin things, but I couldn’t find the Joe Posnanski post I really wanted to link to.

  5. Glenn - Oct 7, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    Mitch Albom is a self-serving and overly smug schmaltz factory. Forget about his maudlin books that wreak of pathos, his defining moment for me was when he used his “parting shot” on The Sports Reporters to praise the courage and effort of Michael Imperioloi who just so happened to be starring in some piece of crap that Albom wrote. It had to be the most thinly veiled self-promotion and commercial-masquerading-as-journalism ever. And that’s saying something if you have ever sat through that show. It was hilarious to see his fake seriousness as he pretended not to be doing an ad for himself.

  6. BatCorker - Oct 7, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    I think the writer is overly harsh regarding Albom — which always leaves me wondering whether it’s mostly sour grapes due to envy…
    I haven’t read Albom’s books and I never listened to his radio show, but I do know that his sports columns are generally pretty good and his broader, general interest columns aren’t bad either. The guy is definitely a talented essayist. Whether that translates into being a playwright, I don’t know.
    With regard to the “transcends sports” comment, I don’t think that is inappropriate at all. Ernie was a marine in World War II. He was also a deeply religious guy who found a way to be a friend to many insignificant strangers. For those and other reasons, I’m sure the story of his life could well limit baseball to only a dim backdrop. In that respect, yes, it would certainly be fair to say that Ernie did transcend sports.
    It’s disappointing to read someone who takes a positive story (a salute to a great man) and finds a way to turn it into an attack on another individual. …Ernie wouldn’t think that was cool at all.

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