"He stood there like a house by the side of the road."
September 17, 2009 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers paid tribute to beloved former voice of the team, Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell. In characteristically classy fashion reminiscent of Lou Gehrig, Harwell used his farewell remarks (transcript) to thank fans for their support throughout his 42 years broadcasting Tigers games, especially in light of his recent diagnosis with inoperable bile duct cancer.

Harwell was the NBC television broadcaster when the (then) New York Giants' Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard Round the World to win the 1951 NL pennant, and though no recording of his call remains, he captivates recalling the circumstances surrounding the broadcast of the game. In 1960 he became the voice of the Tigers, and in 1968 notably called both Denny McLain's MLB record-tying 30th win of the year and the Tigers' pennant victory, rallying the city behind the team one year after the Detroit riots. Harwell also notably called the Tigers' victory in the 1984 World Series (previously) over the San Diego Padres, and called his last game on September 29, 2002, a 1-0 loss to the Blue Jays. Anyone who grew up in or around Detroit and its baseball team would instantly recognize the voice and signature calls of Ernie Harwell.
posted by axiom (18 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I love Ernie Harwell. Awesome post. Thanks.
posted by The World Famous at 4:30 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

This brings back great memories. There was nothing like summertime listening to Ernie Harwell on a transistor radio whille the hamburgers were cooking on the barbeque grill.
posted by acrasis at 4:41 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ernie calling Tiger's games is one of my most favorite memories. I'd be willing to buy the complete '84 season on eight track if I had to... I'd have to find an eight track.
posted by Mojojojo at 4:47 PM on September 17, 2009

And don't forget - he was traded for a catcher!

Great post. Ernie is a prince.
posted by kbanas at 5:34 PM on September 17, 2009

Very nice post. After listening to Ernie last night, I wondered if a MeFi post was appropriate...

Ernie is more than just a Detroit guy... He reached out to everyone in a kind and generous manner...

Listening to Dick Purtan (another Windsor/Detroit legend) this morning on the way in, the comment was made that there are "good men" and there are "great men", and Ernie is a "Great man".... I agree
posted by HuronBob at 5:37 PM on September 17, 2009

Thank you. It just makes me feel good to hear his voice. Makes me feel about 12 years old (in a good way).
posted by marxchivist at 5:48 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

.... and a young man from Hamtramck got that foul ball.
posted by mach at 5:59 PM on September 17, 2009

Someone at yesterday's game had a sign that said "the way a man should be", and, if you know much about Ernie, you know that is very true.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:50 PM on September 17, 2009

Harwell is also quite a forgiving fellow, considering the way Bo Schembechler and the Tigs rather unceremoniously dumped him in 1991.
posted by deadcowdan at 6:56 PM on September 17, 2009

.... and a young man from Hamtramck got that foul ball.

mach, that's a great reference. The way he did that ("That young fella's bringing it back to his dad in Flint!" or somesuch) made the listeners at home connect more, in some way.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 7:31 PM on September 17, 2009

I will never forget him doing the play by play in the late 90s, and occasionally hearing him on the radio. He's lived what from this point of view looks to be an awesome life.

God Bless You Ernie!!!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:18 PM on September 17, 2009

Ernie started with the Tigers a few years before I was born. He was the only baseball announcer I ever knew for decades. Even in retirement, he's done a few commercials, and writes columns and books, and it's been comforting having him around Detroit. I don't look forward to losing yet another cultural icon. What a classy, gracious guy, and one of the very best announcers ever.

.... and a young man from Hamtramck got that foul ball.

True story: After hearing one of these calls while we were in high school, one of my best friends (actually one of the brighter people I've ever known) asked another one, "How does he know?" (pause) "Well, he has this seating chart ..."
posted by pmurray63 at 8:48 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Such a classy guy, such a classic voice.
posted by Turkey Glue at 9:17 PM on September 17, 2009

I used to listen to Ernie and Paul Carey announce games 30 years ago in my bed long after I was supposed to be asleep. I was new to this country, I loved baseball and I loved the Detroit Tigers. Still do.
posted by mert at 9:41 PM on September 17, 2009

"..and it's loooong gone"

Deadcowdan: that was Bo. Bo was not good for the Tigers. (Bo could coach. He wasn't good in the office.) Fortunately, he didn't stay long enough to do irreparable damage. Ernie was willing to let bygones be bygones after Bo left the Tigers.

Somewhere I have the commemorative cassette tape that WJR and the Tigers released after the 1984 season. I need to pull that out and have MrR convert it.

I almost didn't watch that part of the game Wednesday night -- I didn't want to get drenched in saccharine -- but the video was understated, and Ernie was classic Ernie. (Did you see the Royals first base coach taking pictures from their dugout during Ernie's speech? He was on the 1984 Tigers.)
posted by jlkr at 4:19 AM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

He was the voice of my childhood summers. I remember putting a transistor radio under my pillow and listening to him call the Tiger games at night.
posted by zzazazz at 2:42 PM on September 18, 2009

Aww. I miss Ernie. I gotta remember the next time the Tigers play the Angels here to pony up and buy a ticket. Maybe get The World Famous to play hooky with me. As far as I'm concerned, he's the voice of baseball.
posted by klangklangston at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2009

It's a plan.
posted by The World Famous at 5:11 PM on September 18, 2009

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