Ernie Harwell came to Detroit in 1960, and he never left.
Throughout his 43 years calling baseball games for the Tigers, he inspired many a young baseball fan.
He was behind the microphone when the Tigers were World Champions in 1968 and 1984. He called the final game at Tiger Stadium and the first at Comerica Park. He also called countless contests in between.
He treated them all the same. To him, it was baseball.
He made baseball over the radio waves sound beautiful. He had a soft, peaceful Southern accent that made anyone listening feel at home.
He had many memorable catch phrases, letting everyone know that that ball was “long gone, upstairs,” and was “caught by a young 'Tiguhs' fan from Novi, Michigan.”
He is the only broadcaster in history to have been traded for.
In 1948, the Dodgers traded away a catcher to the Atlanta Crackers for the broadcasting contract of Ernie Harwell. He was used as a replacement for Red Barber.
Harwell was on NBC television calling the famed “shot heard round the world” home run by Bobby Thompson in the 1951 National League tiebreaker.
Harwell knew more stories from the game of baseball than anyone else around. He was never shy when imparting his knowledge to baseball fans. He always had a tale to tell, usually about somebody you had never heard of.
He never stood there "like a house on the side of the road" and watched anything go by.
He was always there for the ones that baseball matters to most: the fans.
Even in his final days, Ernie Harwell kept them in his heart—from the beginning of a glorious broadcast career, all the way to an emotional farewell address at Comerica Park, when he thanked the fans for their loyalty.
Most importantly, for me anyway, Harwell made me love baseball more than anything.
I was only five years old, maybe younger, when I first heard him on WJR. I grew up hearing his voice describe the game of baseball. Without him, I doubt that I, or anyone else in Detroit, would love the game of baseball as much as I do today.
Now, Ernie has moved on to call baseball games in the great beyond. His voice is left to be heard by whatever exists beyond life itself.
He, and that voice, will be missed by all of us here down on earth.
Rest in peace, Mr. Harwell.
While you may be "long gone, upstairs," you will always be alive in the hearts every Tigers fan.