Ernie Harwell. Say that name and all of Michigan becomes alive. Ernie Harwell, a man who started broadcasting baseball games before we had TV sets. Ernie Harwell, a complete gentleman. Ernie Harwell, a Hall of Famer. On his induction into the Hall of Fame that took place on August 2, 1981, Ernie described what the game of baseball has meant to him. "Baseball is a tongue tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing up in Cooperstown." Ernie Harwell, proof that good guys can indeed finish first.
This evening at my home in Kearney, Mo., I was so fortunate to watch the last speech Ernie Harwell will ever give in the great city of Detroit. He wanted to say goodbye for the last time to all of his fans and friends. Unfortunately, the ballpark in Detroit does not seat enough to hold all of his fans and friends. Those lucky enough to attend heard the most eloquent speech. Ernie delivered a four minute or so speech in typical Harwell style. No notes, no slip ups, just vintage Harwell prose. In closing he summed it up in typical Ernie Harwell fashion, God Bless You All.
Ernie Harwell is 92 years young. Baseball has been his entire life. Living in the Kansas City area all of my almost 58 years, I feel blessed to have been able to listen to Ernie late into the night on 630AM out of Detroit. One of my favorite remembrances of his broadcasts was how he brought the fan into your living room. There would be a foul ball hit down the line into the crowd and Ernie would say "The guy from Saginaw just dove and made one heck of a catch." Or the guy from Windsor, or Toledo. Nobody knew where the next fan was going to be from.
After the 1991 baseball season, idiocy entered into the Detroit Tiger organization. Somehow, Bo Schembechler became the general manager of the Tigers. His first swell move was to fire Ernie Harwell. Yes, that Ernie Harwell. It didn't take Bo long to find out he didn't know Ernie or the state of Michigan. Shortly, Bo was gone and Ernie was back. Ernie Harwell summed up his career and his legacy on the game by saying "I'd like to be remembered as someone who showed up for the job. I consider myself a worker. I love what I do. If I had my time over again, I'd probably do it for nothing."
Ernie, my prayers are with you and all of your family. Thanks for being on the job. God Bless You.