Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Ernie Harwell (1918-2010)
Sports announcers are a dime a dozen. With so much baseball, football, hockey, or whatever on television nowadays, it seems that any schmuck with a remedial understanding of the game can get put in the announcing booth. However, there are some that become pretty good at what they do. From that group, a select few may even become great. However, it is not every day that a man becomes so great at what he does that he becomes regarded as a legend.
Ernie Harwell was a legend.
Reports have just come out that the great Ernie Harwell, with his wife Lulu at his side, passed away in his home today from his nearly year-long battle with cancer. Words cannot be written to accurately explain how sad a day this is for those who enjoyed the unique way that Ernie explained and taught the game of baseball to us for 55 years, 42 of them with the Tigers.
I’m not going to list the amazing career highlights that made up the broadcasting career of Ernie Harwell. I’m sure you can find those anywhere else, especially in the coming days after his death. Instead, I would just like to share a few of my favorite Ernie quotes from over the years.
-“Baseball is a lot like life. It's a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.”
-“God blessed me by putting me here for thirty-one years at Michigan and Trumbull.”
-“I love what I do. If I had my time over again, I'd probably do it for nothing.”
-“I love the game because it’s so simple, yet it can be so complex. There’s a lot of layers to it, but they aren’t hard to peel back.”
-“Baseball is the President tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm.”
-"I think I owe thanks to the people who have listened to me over the years, who tuned in on the radio. They have given me a warmth and loyalty that I've never been able to repay. The way they have reached out to me has certainly been the highlight of my life."
-“But most of all, I'm a part of you people out there who have listened to me, because especially you people in Michigan, you Tiger fans, you've given me so much warmth, so much affection and so much love.”
In closing, with a tear in my eye, here are a couple of fitting quotes about Ernie from a pair of Tiger greats.
-"Ernie is probably the most beloved person who has ever been in Detroit with the Detroit Tigers. He is loved by everybody and rightfully so. He's a great broadcaster but even a better person. That comes across on his broadcasts." – Al Kaline
-"Ernie Harwell stands, as much as anybody as I can think of, as a positive representative of what the game of baseball should and does stand for. His memory will be long lasting and the quality of man he is will never diminish." – Bill Freehan
Amen. Thank you, Ernie.