I grew up in northwest Ohio. Many a night I listened to WJR Radio in Detroit. One of my fondest memories were the rich tones with a twinge of the South that came from Ernie Harwell. Ernie Harwell was the voice of the Detroit Tigers and I suspect his warm, engaging play-by-play portraits of men like Norm Cash and Al Kaline, Micky Lolich, Bill Freehan and others helped make me a passionate fan of the Tigers long before I made the trip to Michigan and Trumbull to hallowed Tiger Stadium. Before I ever saw my first game, I saw the Tigers through Ernie’s eyes and felt the excitement through Ernie’s heart. Ernie Harwell was in many ways my baseball mentor and I came to love the game because of him.
Ernie began his baseball career as a catcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He then moved onto to broadcasting, a profession he pursued for 55 years, 42 of them with the Tigers. Harwell was named to the Hall of Fame for his leadership and contributions to baseball as the voice of the Tigers.
Ernie Harwell died Tuesday at age 92. He was the victim of bile duct cancer. A man of great faith, that faith simply added to the impact of a great man.
“Whatever happens, I’m ready to face it,” Harwell told The Associated Press on Sept. 4. “I have a great faith in God and Jesus.” He would later add this testimony to the fans at Coamerica Park. “In my almost 92 years on this earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey,” Harwell said at a microphone behind home plate. “The blessed part of that journey is that it’s going to end here in the great state of Michigan.”
Ernie Harwell was a gift of God that enriched baseball by his presence, his passion, his integrity and dedication. He is already missed.
ESPN has a great tribute that I have linked for you to learn more about one of the premier broadcasters of what I still believe is America’s pasttime.