Big Ern

September 5, 2009

Ernie Harwell: A living legend

Ernie Harwell: A living legend

When one thinks of Detroit Tigers baseball, one name always comes to mind.

Ernie Harwell.

Sad news came out of Motown today about reports of the 91-year old former broadcaster being diagnosed with an incurable cancer. He was the voice of the Tigers for over four decades, and was a well-known man in the community as well. Some of my earliest and fondest sports memories have his imprints all over them. I can remember one early evening in 1990 listening to Harwell call the game when Cecil Fielder broke the 50-homerun barrier. I was grounded to my room for some surely absurd reason, so I sat there listening to the game while playing with Legos. I can recall the moment when Fielder hit the towering shot to propel him into MLB stardom that day, and Ernie was there for the call…it was before the luster of the long ball was tarnished by the Steroid Era, and it was the first time a slugger hit over 50 home runs in 17 years.

He symbolized everything that was right with the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. He was warm, endearing, a man with a wealth of knowledge that would just assume to recant with a total stranger about the heydays of the majors as he would want to talk about local news. He was famous for naming the “small town” from which a player was from, a testament to his love for the man from a small town. His smile could light up a room, and his knowledge for the history and the intimacies of the game were second to none.

I know I come off as a guy that knew a lot about Ernie, which is not the case. But this is a tribute to a living legend in Tiger lore, and that’s the most important thing. Before his time on this earth is up, he plans on finishing his fourth book since his retirement. Here’s to hoping he accomplishes that goal before the end.

At 91, he’s lived a life that only most people can dream. And he knows this all to well. In a interview with the Detroit Free Press, Harwell stated: “It could be a year, it could be much less than a year, much less than half a year. Who knows? Whatever’s in store, I’m ready for a new adventure. That’s the way I look at it.”

And to his fans and his followers: “I’d like to thank them for their loyalty and support over the years. And their affection, which I don’t know whether I deserve or not, but I accept it.”

Pure class and humility from a living legend and a man that casts his long shadow over the entire sports world over.

To read his inception speech from his Hall of Fame induction, click on the link below

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/hof/Ernie_Harwell_HOF_Induction.shtml

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3 Responses to “Big Ern”

  1. I was listening to Ernie call Cecil’s 50th and 51st homeruns. For years he championed for the preservation of Tiger Statium. Alas, all good things come to an end. I sure miss him on the radio.

    • chriswillemse said

      In his induction speech, he mentioned how blessed he was for working “on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull”.

  2. andyandvickie said

    All Tigers fans have great memories of Ernie. I am sorry I never got to meet him. http://andyandvickie.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/twas-the-month-before-october/

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