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 Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday

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PostSubject: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:18 pm

Ernie Harwell, ageless voice of the Tigers, turns 90 on Friday
The ageless voice of the Tigers brings the same energy to his life after baseball

January 22, 2008

BY JOHN LOWE

FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

Immediately after he awakes Friday on his 90th birthday, Ernie Harwell plans to do a series of exercises.

First, he will do 50 whirling dervishes -- a stretching maneuver in which he fully extends his arms and alternately turns his upper body to the left and right as fast as he can.

Then he will do about 25 lunges and 25 deep squats.

Then he will jump rope for about 300 repetitions. "Or maybe about 30 more, to figure I counted wrong -- for good measure, as they say," Ernie says.

Then he will get on his back and pull his knees to his chest, then do about 50 sit-ups, then stretch his back.

After that, he will do deep breathing and -- still on his back -- pull his knees to his chin several times. This won't be a onetime demonstration of feisty fitness, meant to show himself just what he can do on his 90th birthday. He does this series of exercises to start every day.

And that is part of the reason why Ernie Harwell, the legendary radio voice of the Tigers, has hardly slowed down. Since retiring in 2002, he has gone to bat to preserve Tiger Stadium, he pitches fitness for Blue Cross Blue Shield, and he fields countless requests for his time and energy. For Michiganders, he remains the same beloved gentleman from Georgia as the day he ended his final broadcast by saying, "I thank you very much, and God bless all of you."

Living in the present

Ernie has a thorough recall of the past, but he doesn't live in it. His home doesn't disclose that he was a major league broadcaster for 55 years, including 42 with the Tigers. His walls aren't jammed with black-and-white photos of Ernie with stars back in the good old days. As Boston Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione said more than once in the last decade, "Ernie is the most contemporary octogenarian I know."

Now Ernie will graduate from octogenarian to nonagenarian (a person in his or her 90s). He's not only contemporary. He's mighty fit.

Those stretches and bends he does to begin the day don't fully constitute his exercise regimen. At the large complex where he lives in Novi, there is a gym. And Ernie has plenty of work to do in that gym.

"One day I'll do cardio," he says. "I'll do the treadmill and the elliptical machine. I'll try to do more on the elliptical machine, because it takes three times as many calories as the treadmill. I'll do that for about 30 minutes, those two."

Every other day, besides the cardio work, he includes weight training. He does this work on resistance machines. "They aren't any big weight-lifting deal," he says, "but they stretch your muscles a little bit."

When it comes to his longevity, how high is fitness on the list of important factors?

"That would be in the top one or two or three, I would say," Ernie says. "I'd say diet and physical fitness and mental attitude would be the three top things."

Any big dos or don'ts on diet?

"My biggest don't is I don't eat a lot of fats and sugars," Ernie says. "But I have a tendency to break over once in a while and have a dessert.

"I don't drink alcohol because I don't like it that much and I don't want to expend all my calories on it. It's sort of an empty kind of thing as far as nutrition is concerned.

"I stay away from bread as much as I can. My big bugaboo is going to a restaurant and they bring out the bread and butter before they serve you. It's a great temptation to load up on that before they bring the entrée."

As for attitude, Ernie says, "The greatest thing is my trust in God. I know that whatever happens is for the best, and I try not to worry about anything, because worrying is a sin and He's going to take care of me."

Appreciating the past

In 90 years, you meet a lot of people.

Growing up in Georgia -- he was born Jan. 25, 1918, in Washington, Ga. -- Ernie met several men who had fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. "They were proud of defending what they thought was the right cause," Ernie says.

At the dawn of his radio career in Atlanta in 1940, he interviewed a man born during the Civil War. It was Connie Mack, the Philadelphia Athletics manager since 1901. Mack recounted in detail for Harwell how Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants threw three shutouts against Mack's A's in the 1905 World Series.

As a 12-year-old in 1930, Ernie met Babe Ruth when the Yankees came to Atlanta for an exhibition game. Ernie didn't have any paper for the Babe to autograph, and the outcome of that episode became the title of one of Ernie's books: "The Babe Signed My Shoe."

As a broadcaster in the 1940s and 1950s, Ernie got to know Ty Cobb. Theirs was a relationship between two Georgians -- one who had taken over Detroit baseball by the storm of his playing talent, and one who would take it over by the pleasing, flowing river of his words. Cobb wasn't known for making friends, but Ernie says that Cobb "was very good to me, he really was."

Ernie is probably the only person you could meet in 2008 who met Mack, Ruth, Cobb -- and Ted Williams.

Williams was born seven months after Ernie, in August 1918. Many years into his career, when he had made his case as the best hitter ever, Williams approached Ernie before a game.

Williams told Ernie he was going to be honored soon and he had written a speech for the occasion. Would Ernie go over the speech with him?

That tells you something about the respect Williams had for how Ernie used words. It also shows you how long Ernie lasted in baseball. Williams, who died six years ago, approached Ernie with that request when Ernie was broadcasting for the Baltimore Orioles -- before he began his 42-year run with the Tigers.

But perhaps the real story now is that Ernie Harwell is still with us. He is what the Japanese call a living treasure. Perhaps that explains why Ichiro Suzuki, the Seattle Mariners' Japanese star, was eager to meet Ernie when he came to the United States in 2001.

Not only is Ernie still with us, but so is a really important person he met in 1940: Lulu Tankersley.

Nearly 67 years of marriage

Not many years ago, Ernie introduced a friend in spring training to former Tigers pitcher Elden Auker.

"Elden and Mildred have been married 67 years," Ernie said. "They make Lulu and me look like newlyweds."

Ernie is reminded of that line now, because he and Lulu are due to celebrate their 67th anniversary this August.

"I'm still a newlywed," Ernie says, laughing. "It's been wonderful for me -- she's such a wonderful person. We are more in love now than we ever have been. It's because of her, I think, it's been a great success."

Why does Ernie feel that way?

"I appreciate her more than I ever did," he says. "We've gone through some good times and some bad times. I think we've grown toward each other because of that. She's been supportive no matter what happened.

"I don't think it would matter whether we didn't make any money or made some, or moved or didn't. She's always been able to adjust and adapt herself. She's sublimated herself to me many times and to my wishes. I try to do the same to her."

Like Ernie, Lulu has lots of good cheer and energy. After the 1959 season, she gave up a home she loved in a city she loved, Baltimore, so that Ernie could take a higher-paying play-by-play job in a bigger market with a more prestigious franchise: Detroit and the Tigers.

"We did enjoy Baltimore -- we had this beautiful house, and Lulu was in love with that house," Ernie says. "She was a good sport to follow me and come here when she liked it so much.

"It's very important for a woman to have a place that she likes and where she's bringing up the family and feels comfortable. But she made a sacrifice and came with me."

Within the first year or so in Detroit, Ernie and Lulu realized that it was the spot they wanted to stay.

They have four children. Gray lives in Sarasota, Fla. Bill, Carolyn and Julie live in the Detroit area.

"We have seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren," Ernie says. And those 12 folks have a grandfather and great-grandfather who has stories to tell them they won't get anywhere else. Such as about the 1935 World Series, in which he saw the Tigers play the Cubs in Wrigley Field, thanks to a great-uncle who lived in the Chicago area and got tickets.

Ernie took the train from Georgia. "That '35 World Series was very cold -- I'd never been that cold in my life," he says. "The three games in Chicago were really cold. I probably didn't come dressed for it."

On the train home, Ernie learned that the Tigers had won Game 6 in Detroit to capture the world title -- their first. They now have won four; Ernie was their lead announcer for their two most recent, in 1968 and 1984.

The great-uncle who brought Ernie to Chicago for that '35 World Series wasn't really a fan of baseball. "But he knew how much I loved it," Ernie says. "He brought me up there in '34 to see my first big-league game, in Comiskey Park."

Now, more than 70 years later, Ernie says about that 1935 World Series what he has said about many things in his life:

"I really enjoyed it."

His life adventure rolls on

These days, Ernie is more than fulfilling what he said in his farewell to his radio audience on the final day of the 2002 season, moments after he called the Tigers game that marked the end of his run as a full-time announcer:

"I'm not leaving, folks. I'll still be with you, living my life in Michigan, my home state, surrounded by family and friends. ... Now God has a new adventure for me. And I'm ready to move on."

The new adventure quickly took shape, and it has been keeping him busy. He serves as a spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. In the baseball season, he contributes a weekly vignette to FSN and returns to his sports writing roots as he produces a weekly column for the Free Press. He does speaking engagements. And, he said, "other projects come up."

Asked how much time all this takes, he says, "It would average out at about four or five hours per day."

Once in a while, he will lead a fitness walk for Blue Cross. He has a 10-year deal with the company that he signed in his first year out of broadcasting when he was 85. The contract goes until 2013, when the Blues will have an option for another 10-year deal, which would take Ernie to age 105. So his association with those folks might be just getting started.

His work with Erickson Retirement Communities really is just getting started. This month, he became its spokesman in Michigan.

"It's really enjoyable to see Ernie succeed in these other areas," says his longtime friend and attorney, Gary Spicer. "It brings a lot of satisfaction to him and to Mrs. Harwell."

More honors are coming, too. Ernie was long ago voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. Next month, he will return to his roots to be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and to be saluted in his hometown of Washington.

His adventure rolls on, and he just keeps meeting people. He meets them through the power of the microphone, at a speech or over the airwaves. And he meets them in person. He's doing what he always has done, regardless of his job. To those he meets, he's spreading cheer and the feeling that life is something to celebrate.

Spicer says: "His discipline and his faith are inspirational to everyone he comes in contact with. Bar none. Even the greatest cynics, they melt."

Goal for 90: Stay healthy

What's it like to be around Ernie Harwell as he turns 90?

It's to have no need to ask, "How are you feeling?" From his energy, his wit and his smile, the answer is obvious: Ernie is feeling great.

What's it like to be around Ernie Harwell as he turns 90? It's to hear him say that he doesn't want any big birthday celebration and that his goals for the coming year are to "stay healthy and stay out of everybody's way and not cause too much trouble."

What's it like to be around Ernie Harwell as he turns 90?

It's a little like being that photographer who expressed a wish to Winston Churchill when the former British prime minister celebrated his 75th birthday. "I hope, sir," the photographer said, "that I will shoot your picture on your 100th birthday."

"I don't see why not, young man," Churchill replied. "You look reasonably fit and healthy."


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:21 pm

What a guy...I can still remember lying in bed at night listening to all the games on my Mickey Mouse transistor radio hoping my parents didn't catch me Smile
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PostSubject: All about Ernie   Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:24 pm

All about Ernie

Who: William Earnest Harwell

Born: Jan. 25, 1918, at Washington, Ga.

Personal: Married to Lulu since 1941. Four children.

College: Emory University

Military:
Four years in Marines

With the typewriter: Covered minor league Atlanta Crackers for the Sporting News, worked for Atlanta Constitution. Still writes a weekly column during the baseball season for the Free Press.

In the booth: Started with the Crackers in 1943, before World War II intervened. In 1948, Brooklyn traded catcher Cliff Dapper to Atlanta to acquire Ernie. His stops: Dodgers, 1948-49; New York Giants, 1950-53; Baltimore Orioles, 1954-59; Tigers, 1960-2002 (missed 1992 after firing, did only TV 1994-98 ).

First day with Tigers: Replaced Van Patrick. Teamed with George Kell.

Last day with Tigers:
Ended broadcast Sept. 29, 2002, with these words: "I thank you very much, and God bless all of you."

Tidbits: In 55-year major league career he missed only two games -- and neither for health reasons. ... Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 1989, Radio Hall of Fame in 1998. ... Ernie and Dapper finally met on Sept. 15, 2002, when an Ernie statue was unveiled at Comerica Park.

Get Ernie's books and CD

To help commemorate Ernie Harwell's 90th birthday, the Free Press and the Hall of Fame announcer teamed up in the fall for "Breaking 90," the third book in a collection of Harwell's Free Press columns.

You can order the 208-page book for $14.95 at freep.com/bookstore or 800-245-5082.

The book also is available as part of a CD and book set, in which you get all three of Harwell's Free Press books, plus his four-CD audio scrapbook, for just $44.95 -- a savings of $20.

See Ernie Harwell video at:
http://wm.freep.gannett.edgestreams.net/sports/0122_ernieharwell.wmv


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:31 pm

I get his audio tapes. Those would be awesome!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:43 pm




FLASHBACK: The Tigers fired Ernie Harwell? Is that allowed?

January 22, 2008

Editor's note: Story originally published on Dec. 20, 1990.

He entered the room with his heart already broken, yet he forced a smile; he greeted the reporters, told them thanks for coming. A gentleman does not forget his manners, no matter how much dirt is thrown at him. This has always been the quality that separates Ernie Harwell from the dim bulbs in baseball.

And so he squeezed his lip when it began to quiver Wednesday morning, and he squinted into the lights of this, his first and only news conference in 72 years on this planet.

"I'm told it was a business decision," he said, when asked why the Detroit Tigers, had suddenly, after 31 years of the finest baseball broadcasting in America, told him he was out of a job after the 1991 season.

"The Tigers said they wanted to go in a new direction. . . . I would have liked to continue broadcasting, but . . . this is what they decided. I have to accept that."

He refused to whine. He refused to grovel. Because he is a gentleman, he refused to slam his bosses for the lousy thing they had done.

Allow me.

Oh, you bet I'll slam them. And behind me is a line from here to Alpena waiting to do the same. What the Tigers did Wednesday was one of the most shameful acts I have ever witnessed from a sports franchise, and, considering the company, that's sinking pretty low. They took a man who is a national treasure and told him to start packing. They took a man who literally taught baseball to hundreds of thousands of fans, summer after summer, and they told him he's too old, his time is up.

They fired Ernie Harwell? Is that allowed?

It is if you run the team and the radio station. So for this brilliant act of sports management, we can thank Bo Schembechler, the new Tigers president, and Jim Long, the WJR general manager, and Jeff Odenwald, the Tigers' new marketing man (everybody has a marketing man these days, right?).

These three wise men, in a single 45-minute meeting a few months ago, made the biggest bonehead move of the decade. They killed the voice of baseball.

They fired Ernie Harwell.

Oh, they prefer to call it "forced retirement," but that is a joke.

Harwell, against his wishes, will be gone after next season -- without a real pension, I might add, from either the Tigers or WJR. Nice move, huh? Just in time for Christmas.

Hey, guys. Why not punch Santa in the face while you're at it?

Now, let's be clear on something. There is nothing wrong with Ernie Harwell. No reason that he should go, other than this "new direction" the Tigers keep spouting. Harwell looks good, sounds as wonderful as ever. "I feel better than I felt 20 years ago," he said Wednesday, looking quite fit in a blue sports jacket and a red tie. "My blood pressure is 100 over 70, my cholesterol count is 179, the doctor said my eyesight is like a 35-year-old . . ."

I heard this, and suddenly, something inside me began to twinge. Ernie Harwell, in this dimly lit room, defending his health -- surely this ranks as one of the lowest sports moments in recent memory. His blood pressure? Good god. Why should Ernie Harwell have to give us his blood pressure? He has earned the right to stay in the booth until his teeth fall out.

Let me explain why this is: Here is a man who has been broadcasting sports since the end of World War II. A man who rode the trains with the old Brooklyn Dodgers, and who counted players like Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson among his friends. He goes back to the days of re-creations, which he did for the road games of the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern League. He would stand next to a ticker-tape machine and recite the play-by-play as it came across, while a sound man made the noise of bats and crowd cheers.

So Ernie Harwell is living history. And more than that. For the last three decades, he has awakened Michigan in baseball season with a favorite line from the Bible, "For lo, the winter is past, and the song of the turtle is heard across the land." He has broadcast our World Series champions in 1968 and 1984. His phrases and soft Georgia accent were imitated by children who now have children of their own, doing the same imitations. "Here come the Tigahs" . . . "He stood there like a house by the side of the road" . . . "Thank-ya Mistah Carey . . . "

There are countless reasons why Harwell -- and Paul Carey, his longtime partner, who announced that he too will leave after the 1991 season -- must be considered the best in his business right now, not the least of which is the plaque in the baseball Hall of Fame that bears Harwell's name.

That alone is reason to keep him. But on top of all this, Ernie Harwell also has a characteristic beyond baseball, something that most of us lose with our childhood: He makes people nicer. I have seen the crudest of athletes turn into choir boys when Harwell walks past. "Hello, Mr. Harwell," they say.

"How are you, Ernie?"

How does he do this? By being a good man, an honest man, a man who, as long as anyone can remember, has never stooped to insulting a fellow human being.

People like this, you don't fire. People like this, you pay off their doctors to keep them around.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

So this move by the Tigers and WJR is so awful, so blatantly stupid, that I felt compelled to turn to Odenwald during Harwell's news conference and ask him why. I asked him five times. He never really answered me.

"We want to go in a new direction," he kept saying.

"Why?" I said again. "Is Ernie too old? Do you want to reach a younger audience? Are you unhappy with the way he broadcasts?"

"We just felt we wanted to go in a new direction."

Odenwald was stammering, looking for words. At that moment, he reminded me of some oil company executive, trying to sweep all his sins under the carpet of "it's not personal, it's just business."

But at least Odenwald showed up, which is more than can be said about Schembechler and Long. I think most readers know I have a lot of respect for Schembechler. But not on this. He gets one strike for the firing. He gets another if what Ernie says is true -- and Bo says it isn't -- that the Tigers and WJR suggested Harwell "announce his retirement" during the Tigers' press tour next spring, a cowardly thing to do.

Strike three comes with Bo's explanation when he finally surfaced Wednesday afternoon. "I don't want to get into all the factors," he said when asked for one good reason why Harwell should no longer broadcast the games.

"It's firm. It's not going to change no matter how much clamor is made over it."

Well now. There's another bright statement from our baseball team. Who are they playing for -- the fans, or themselves? Suppose the clamor turned to people refusing to buy tickets? Would they listen then?



He was a mere employee

Let me tell you something else about Ernie Harwell, something that makes this "new direction" even more despicable. For all these years, Harwell never used an agent to negotiate his contracts. Usually, he just walked into former Tigers President Jim Campbell's office, had a brief discussion, and waited for the contract to arrive. The Tigers and WJR -- both of whom have been known to be cheap -- would sometimes not even give Harwell a raise between three- or five-year deals. WJR made him work without an engineer; he and Carey would have to lug their own equipment on road trips. I once asked Ernie if he would let me write this fact and he said, "No, I don't want to embarrass WJR like that."

And yet his station never hesitated to call on him to schmooze with potential clients. Ernie, go talk with this clothing store. Ernie help us get this company to advertise. He never refused a request. What was he paid for this? Nothing. The truth is, while most people in Michigan saw Harwell as a treasure, WJR and the Tigers saw him merely as an employee. They squeezed him dry, like a dish rag. Now they want to toss him aside.

He never complained. He never demanded that money be put aside for his retirement. And now, because of this sudden dismissal, and because of the family he supports, he finds himself in a position where, most likely, he will have to work after his last Tigers season is over. Can you imagine? Ernie

Harwell having to take a job with some other team, introducing himself to new players, maybe moving from his home? The Tigers offered him a limited role in 1992, maybe a pre-game show. But as Harwell said, "A play-by-play man does play-by-play." Actually, if the Tigers had any class, they would take a million dollars they were going to give the next Willie Hernandez or Chris Brown and hand it over to Harwell, free and clear.

They won't, of course. This is your baseball team, Detroit, and your radio station, WJR, the "home of the Tigers." They want to go in a "new direction."

They want to be the Pistons.

They can go anywhere they want. This will never change: This day, this sunny Wednesday in the middle of December, will forever be a black mark on the history of this franchise. Ernie Harwell, who gave and gave, deserved to pick his own exit, to take his bows when he felt he was finished. The Tigers and WJR have denied him this. They have killed the voice of baseball. Even worse, they have robbed a gentleman of his dignity. And in doing so, they have lost all of theirs.

Shame on them.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:47 pm

Quote :
It is if you run the team and the radio station.
So for this brilliant act of sports management, we can thank Bo
Schembechler, the new Tigers president, and Jim Long, the WJR general
manager, and Jeff Odenwald, the Tigers' new marketing man (everybody
has a marketing man these days, right?).

Sure glad Shambechler is not with the tigers anymore, he would probably fire the fans if they did not cheer loud enough. Makes me proud to have gone to MSU instead of U of M!


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:54 pm

Great article! I always enjoy reading Mitch Albom.


Happy Birthday Ernie! PARTY! PARTY!


bow Z. Miner
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PostSubject: PAYING TRIBUTE: Part 1   Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:02 pm

PAYING TRIBUTE: What Harwell's peers say about the Tigers legend
Part 1

January 22, 2008

Editor's note: Story originally published on Sept. 13, 2002

No one recognizes a professional's skill and value like his or her peers.

Throughout Ernie Harwell's final season, Free Press sports writer John Lowe has talked to Harwell's fellow American League broadcasters about him.

What has emerged is a dual tribute to Harwell: recognition that he has made a lasting contribution to the standard for excellence in baseball broadcasting, and appreciation of what a warm friend and colleague he has been.

With a handful of exceptions, all of the broadcasters to whom we talked are, like Harwell, full-time radio announcers. Frank Beckmann, the Tigers' play-by-play announcer on Channel 50, served as the Tigers' radio voice in 1995-98, part of his continuing career of high quality and immense versatility on Detroit radio. Seattle's Dave Niehaus, who divides his time between radio and television, remains at heart a radio man. Rick Rizzs, Niehaus' TV and radio colleague with the Mariners, won the honor in 1992 of succeeding Harwell as the Tigers' lead radio announcer. And Josh Lewin, the play-by-play announcer for Texas telecasts, studied Harwell's broadcasts as he grew up, then became his Detroit colleague.

Here is what these voices of the game have to say about Harwell:

Bill King, Oakland A's:


When you hear Ernie Harwell's honey tones, and that wonderful timbre of the voice and the cadence, if it's in the background and you don't even hear the distinct words and phrases, it says to you, 'That's baseball.' I think that is one of the things that certain broadcasters have. Vin Scully has that same quality. If you were to listen to Vin and hear his voice in the distance, you'd know, 'That's baseball.' That's summer. That's a warm evening, a hot afternoon. And that's baseball to me, because I go back to the time prior to television as a kid growing up, was that sound on radio.

Coming from radio myself - a child of radio - I think I have a greater appreciation of Ernie than people of a younger generation. They appreciate Ernie, but maybe not for the same reasons that I do. Baseball is the sport most suited to radio. It's the theatre of the mind. The challenge of the broadcaster is to bring to the fans the total picture, the interpretation of the game, be the eyes and ears of fans. Ernie does it so well. You can do it in a complex fashion that you set the listener spinning. Ernie keeps it simple and yet comprehensive. Ernie has such a wonderful voice and tempo for baseball, and it reflects the tempo of the game, which is unique.

Then of course you take if further because Ernie has such an incisive understanding of the game, such great recollections, so many years and events and experiences to draw upon to weave the tale of the game. Baseball isn't just the balls and the strikes and the two-out hit to right-center field that ties the game. Baseball is a tapestry woven verbally to the listener that ties 1910 to 1990, and 2002 back to 1952. There always seems to be a way to tie in the game to its history and its roots. And nobody does that better than Ernie. It's been even more satisfying to get to know Ernie, after having heard him many years before I first met him, to find out not only is he such an affable and interesting man, but a very total person, and a guy who has a great consideration for his fellow men and an appreciation for many other areas of life other than just baseball and broadcasting. That makes a total package.

Joe Castiglione, Boston Red Sox:

He's been a mentor over the years in many ways, personally and professionally, both for myself and for my family. In my first year with the Red Sox, I was getting critiqued rather harshly by one of the Boston papers. Ernie said, 'You're the new guy, withstand it, and persevere and go from there.'

My son had a similar situation. He met Ernie once when he came with me to Tiger Stadium. Later, my son got a job in New York as a sports anchor, and the night before he went on he was almost physically ill, he was so nervous. He called Ernie, and Ernie said, 'Look, we all go through that, you'll be fine.'

He felt a lot better about situation. One thing I've learned from Ernie is to help young broadcasters. There's never been a better guy at helping young broadcasters. He knows everybody's name. He remembers them. Ernie set an example about helping these young broadcasters. I've seen him over the years with so many of them. I've tried to do that, too.

That's one reason that why I teach a course at Northeastern University and at Franklin Pierce College. I like to give something back, like Ernie does. I'll never do what he did in that regard.

Another big thing I've learned from Ernie is to stay contemporary. Ernie is the most contemporary octogenarian I've ever known. He stays young, he thinks young. He doesn't live in the past, which is remarkable. I asked him the other day, 'Are the broadcasters today as good as they were then?' He said, 'They're probably better. They're more conscientious, they work harder, they're better prepared.' I thought that was reassuring from someone who has been around 60 years.

I think there's also a spirituality factor with Ernie. He lives his faith. It helps him. He seems to be so stress-free. I think he has such longevity, because he treats everybody well, whether you're a clubhouse kid or a superstar.

Josh Lewin, Texas Rangers:

I grew up trying to pull in as many radio stations as I could, listening to as many guys as I could. But I always found myself on WJR, almost like it was a magnet, because of Ernie. He was such a welcoming voice. I felt like I already new him even before I had the pleasure of meeting him. He has that effect on a lot of listeners - he's the next-door-neighbor type.

When I came to Detroit, he was the first one to reach out his hand. In my first spring training, he called to ask when I was getting in. I checked into the hotel, and I'm there for 10 minutes just unpacking and my phone rings and it's Ernie inviting me over for dinner. So I stopped and picked up fresh strawberries for him and Miss Lulu. I thought I would just put in an appearance. He had me over for like five hours. I thought, 'I guess I'm in the Tigers family now.' I'll never forget that.

Ernie has turned out to be a remarkable friend - not just a mentor, but a friend. He transcends age and pretty much everything else. We don't have very much common other than that we're very passionate about baseball and describing it to other people.

He's a master craftsman. He's always kept it simple, which I think is part of his charm and staying power. His gentle nature is something that seeps into every broadcast. The voice just bubbles with baseball. That's what baseball is supposed to sound like.

Ernie told you what you needed to know, he told you what you didn't know, and he always had that warmth, that inviting lilt to his voice that always made you feel welcome. No one can do that like Ernie can.

The Tigers haven't been a good team for a long time. You never ever would think 'bitter old man' with Ernie. I think a lot of guys, when they start advancing into their senior years, in general become curmudgeonly. Ernie is still so high on life, and that's what plays so well in his broadcast. It's not affected, it's not an act. It's a very, very genuine. I think it's remarkable.

First of all, most people his age aren't doing nearly what he's doing in terms of travel and day-to-day work. But to keep such a sunny disposition, even when the team is 15 or 30 games under .500, is just remarkable to me. He will be sorely, sorely missed, not just by me but by every other broadcaster in the business.

I think he's going to live to 112, and could have kept broadcasting until he was 102. But I totally respect that he feels it's time. It's a bummer for rest of us, but you have to give him his freedom to walk away when he feels it's time.

Paul Olden, Tampa Bay Devil Rays:

When I first made it to the major leagues in 1988 with Cleveland, I packed up and went to spring training. I walked into the public-relations office to introduce myself, and they said, 'Oh, here's a letter for you.' I thought,'Who knows I am here?'

I opened it, and it was a welcome-to-the-major-leagues note from Ernie. He had no idea who I was, but obviously he wanted to welcome to the big leagues a new kid in the fraternity.

Tom Cheek, Toronto Blue Jays:

When I got this opportunity when the Blue Jays came along in 1977, I got two pieces of mail. One was a note pecked out on a typewriter. It was from Ernie Harwell: 'Welcome to big leagues. I know you're going to be a big success. If there is ever anything I can do for you, here's my phone number.' I thought, 'Wow.' I knew little of Ernie Harwell other than, 'This has to be a nice person.'

Over the next 25 years, the message with Ernie has been that he's a great broadcaster, he is the voice of baseball, he is the heart and soul of baseball. But he's also one of the most wonderful people I've ever had the pleasure to know. He's the genuine article.

In our first spring training, he lived near our training camp in Dunedin, Fla. He said, 'Lulu and I would like for you and your wife to come over and have a dish of ice cream.'

How often are you invited in these days and times for a dish of ice cream? That's exactly what it was, and that is Ernie Harwell. There's only one Ernie.

Herb Carneal, Minnesota Twins

When I got my first full-time major-league job, working with Ernie in Baltimore in 1957, my wife and I went to Baltimore to house-hunt. Ernie and his wife, Lulu, invited us to stay at their house for as long as we needed to while we were looking around for a house. And I had never met Ernie. I thought, 'This is really something.'

Ernie took me under his wing. In those days we did radio and television. We talked about the differences in the two, and Ernie said, 'Herb, when you are doing radio, your listeners don't know anything until you tell them something.' I've never forgotten that.

I also learned about pacing on the radio from him. You don't have to talk every second. Absorb some of the crowd. Tell a little off-beat story that perhaps people haven't heard. And throw in some humor once in a while. It's kind of an entertainment thing.

People ask Ernie and me why we keep doing it. It's not like a 9-to-5 job. When you come to the ballpark, you don't have any idea what's going to happen that night.

Jerry Howarth, Toronto Blue Jays:1

Ernie is the first broadcaster I met in the big leagues when I came in as a rookie in '81. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Hi, I'm Ernie Harwell and welcome to the major leagues. Do you and your wife and your two young boys want to come over to our place tonight? Lulu and I would like to have you for coffee and dessert.'

That started a wonderful friendship. Ernie has been a mentor for me. He's a wonderful Christian man whom I've emulated. He's bigger than the game because he lets the game take place and then he just calls what happens. I'm so impressed with how fundamental he is in his life and his calling of a ballgame. I saw things like discipline and routine in Ernie, and I said, 'I want to do that for myself.'

Ernie takes the game seriously, but not himself, and I really respect that. He's just a man's man and a wonderful broadcaster.

Ryan Lefebvre, Kansas City Royals:

My first four or five years in the league, I was the youngest announcer and he was the oldest. But other than his experience and my lack of it, there was no gap between us. He treated you like a peer. I've had a lot of great discussions with him over the years about the history of broadcasting. I'm interested in what it was like in the '40s and '50s. I've really developed a sense of broadcast history because of Ernie.

If you didn't know he was Hall of Famer Ernie, you would just think he's nice guy Ernie. He doesn't carry himself like some big-shot broadcaster. He's in 80s, and there are times you wonder why is he still doing this? Now it hits you that he's not going to be around any more.

Any broadcaster tells you a highlight when their team plays the Tigers is to see Ernie and talk to Ernie. I think everybody feels like he is Ernie's best friend. Then you realize you're not. Ernie just has a lot of best friends.

It's going to be tough for me not to have him around. It's going to be very difficult for me. Especially when I look back to when I was 24 working for the Twins, a lot of my contemporaries looked at me like I was an intern or a stat guy. Ernie was never like that. He always treated me with respect. He's just a special, special person. I know Detroit is obviously going to miss him quite a bit, but I don't think baseball realizes how much they're going to miss him.

(continued)


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:04 pm

PAYING TRIBUTE: What Harwell's peers say about the Tigers legend
Part 2


January 22, 2008

Editor's note: Story originally published on Sept. 13, 2002


Denny Matthews, Kansas City Royals:

When I was growing up central Illinois, I had the pleasure of picking up lot of radio stations and a lot of different broadcasts and broadcasters, and I had the pleasure of listening to Ernie many a night.

I had the pleasure of meeting him when I got into broadcasting in 1969. I can recall how generous he was with information, how helpful he was, how encouraging he was to a young broadcaster just out of college with basically no experience. He was very nice about introducing me to the Tigers people and so on.

Then I had the immense pleasure of working with Ernie on the 1982 American League championship series on CBS Radio. Just a chance to work with him, having listened to him and having known him, was unbelievable.

Then subsequently through the years, I've had the pleasure of hearing the stories he tells and talking to him. And then I've had the pleasure of seeing how people are responding now that this is his last year -- the outpouring of emotions. So I guess it's safe to say he has pleasured me since I was seven, eight or nine years old to the present.

Eric Nadel, Texas Rangers:

I listened to Ernie for three years when I was doing minor-league hockey in Muskegon. I remember most notably the joy in his voice every night when he signed on the air. It was clear he was happy to be there. It was clear he was exactly where he wanted to be at that time and loving every moment of it.

I remember as a first-year professional radio announcer noticing how descriptive he was, how well he used the language. A lot of people take shortcuts on in radio, especially with the great spread of TV. And anytime I listen to Ernie, I'm reminded, 'Don't take any shortcuts.' You are the eyes of the audience, and nobody has ever done that as well as he does.

From when I actually got to meet him, it has been astounding to me, and I think to all of us in this business, just what a regular guy he is, how unaffected he is by all the success, how truly humble he is, and how genuinely appreciative he is every single time someone tells him that they are a listener and they enjoy his work or they've been affected by his work.

He has offered to help and always has had answers when you have questions. So many minor-league announcers who have gotten in touch with me have used Ernie Harwell as a reference that it's staggering. So clearly he's made himself available to people on that level, too. To me, that's really impressive, because when I was an aspiring hockey announcer and tried to establish that same relationship with some NHL announcers, I didn't have a lot of success. I didn't get responses from these people when I sent them tapes and sent them letters.

Clearly, Ernie doesn't turn anybody down. He makes time for everybody. I've gone to him and asked him a lot about the use of stats. He doesn't use many. He still does it kind of the old-fashioned way. He has illuminated me on some things that he thinks are interesting and some things that he thinks arejust bogging the game down with too many numbers. That's a very useful reminder to me at times, not to overuse the stats. To try to pick the stuff that is genuinely interesting.

It's still just fantastic to listen to him all the time. I listen to him now on the Internet frequently.

Dave Niehaus, Seattle Mariners:

Ernie and Vin Scully are two of the remaining announcers who cut their teeth on radio only and had to really learn how to utilize the English language, learn how really to describe the game and make explicitly clear what was happening on the field: where the ball was, how many feet it was away from the wall, how green the grass is, were there were white puffy clouds in the sky or was it a clear, Syrillian blue sky. And how far the walls were from the plate down the line and in the gaps. You had to tell them. People see on television. They don't see that on radio. And Ernie is a master of describing a baseball game, as is Vin Scully.

Ernie has his own way of describing a baseball game. When you hear Ernie Harwell, you know it's Ernie Harwell. When you hear Vin Scully, nobody has to tell you who it is. When you hear Harry Caray, nobody has to tell you who it is. I think the biggest mistake any kid makes who wants to get into this business is to try to be Ernie Harwell or try to be Vin Scully. You've got to develop your own style. You've got to be your own person. You've got to develop your own personality.

When an announcer has the longevity with a club that Ernie does, he becomes identified even more with the club than the stars itself. The Kalines and the icons of the game pass through here. They have exciting years like 1968, and they turn the town on. They turn the town on with their talent, and the baseball announcer turns the town on as he much as he can every year with his talent, whether you win a championship or not. People tune in to listen because it's Ernie Harwell and it's baseball. When you lose, people are still there on the other side of that radio speaker. They want to know when it's time to come to the ballpark again.

A baseball announcer is like a member of your family. The greatest praise that I get is when I hear from people who can't see television, who are blind, who say, 'I can see the game through your eyes.' That is the greatest praise you can get.

Ernie will continue to make an impact on everyone who has heard him. He's an icon of our business, certainly one of the most respected broadcasters of all time. And he is such a truly nice man, too. I've never heard him say a bad word about anybody. He's a very amiable guy, very easy to meet. You feel very comfortable around him. He loves to talk to you about anything you want to talk about.

Ed Farmer, Chicago White Sox:

When I first started broadcasting, Ernie said, 'Edward, be yourself. Just be yourself. That's all I'm going to tell you. People will like your voice, because you have a nice, pleasant tone. Tell them where the ball is. They just want to know where the ball is. Tell them that and give them the score, and just be yourself.' True words. It's been 12 years now for me as a broadcaster, and people know my voice, and they know where the ball is. And I thank Ernie for that.

I don't ever say good-bye to Ernie. I say, 'So long for tonight, and I'll see you tomorrow.' When next year comes around and I don't see him over there in the booth, then I think I'm really going to miss him.

Tom Hamilton, Cleveland Indians:

When I started with the Indians in 1990, the broadcasters were the people I was more in awe of than I was of the players. The broadcasters were the guys I looked to emulate, not the players. I was in awe the first time I met Bob Uecker, Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell, Vin Scully, because I thought, 'I don't belong on this same platform.' The real treat for me has been that all of them have been such great people, and Ernie is at the top of the list when you talk about people.

That has been the most refreshing thing for me. These people were even better people than they were broadcasters. It rekindles your faith in mankind, because you were wondering if these people were going to be stuffy or unapproachable. People like Ernie and the man I broke in with, Herb Score, made you feel like you were one of their peers.

And they're great examples of what you hope to become, not so much from a broadcast standpoint -- they are in a different echelon -- but to be the kind of person they are to other people coming up through the business. I've always tried to keep that in mind when you have young guys send you tapes from the minor leagues, or guys who are looking to get where you are, and remember how the people like Ernie treated me. They've been the best example of how not only to be a good broadcaster, but also a good person.

This is kind of an end of an era. We're never going to have an era of broadcasters like this again. The business has changed, and the medium has changed. Television is much more of a factor, although baseball and radio are still a great marriage.

You talk about Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Bob Gibson. You're also talking in the same vein about Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, Harry Caray and Vin Scully. The likes of those people we'll never have again.

Rick Rizzs, Seattle Mariners. Rizzs replaced Harwell as the Tigers' lead voice in 1992, then returned to the Seattle broadcast team when the Tigers fired him after the '94 season:

My relationship with Ernie started when I first got to the big leagues in 1983. When I came to Detroit to work for the Tigers, our relationship didn't change. I remember all the turmoil here in 1991 with the fans knowing that was supposedly going to be Ernie's final year. He came up to me behind the batting cage at Tiger Stadium and said, 'Rick, I want you to apply for my job.'

I told him, 'Ernie, I feel sorry for the poor son-of-a-gun who has to replace you.'

He said, 'No, no, Rick you can do it. You've been in the big leagues now for nine years. You've been to the minor leagues. You've got the experience. I want you to apply for my job.'

Ernie stands out because of his longevity, his caring for his craft, being so good for so long from one generation to the other -- and it has been three or four generations -- and love for the game. You can tell that he loves the games, loves this organization, adored the fans and they adored him. He is shared adoringly by millions of fans in this area.

When you turn on the radio, it's very comforting to know that Ernie Harwell's voice is there. And I knew that in spring training in 1992 that for the first time in 33 years, fans here were going to hear a different voice than Ernie Harwell. So the first thing I made sure of was that I gave all the respect in the world and said the right things to honor Ernie Harwell.

I came back to Seattle after Detroit. Ernie and I continue to have a great deal of respect for one another. This man has seen it all in baseball, and then some. He's going to do a lot more games than I'm ever going to dream of.

I'm not going to do 55 years of major-league baseball. But I admire the man and I have a great deal of respect for him. He broadcasts a game to make it vivid in the imagination of a person listening on a crackling transistor radio. He's still very sharp at making you see the game on the radio. That's a great art. I respect that, and that he's been able to do that for 55 years and still love it. I've got a great deal of respect for the way he keeps himself so energetic. I don't know how many people who are 84 are still doing what they did when they were 40. I respect his endurance, and I respect his love for the game. You have to love the game inorder to do anything for 55 years.

He lets the sound of the ballpark seep in and make you feel like you're there.

Then when a ball is in play, he lets you know where it is, who's running, who's throwing it, and the score. And that's what fans need to know and want to know. And he does it as well as anyone in major-league history.

His departure is the end of an era. This is a chapter we'll never read about again, once he's gone. It was so important that Ernie decide when he leaves. That's the way it should have been in the first place. Then there wouldn't have been so much acrimony, like there was back in 1992 when I got here. But this is Ernie's decision. It's a good one. He's been so great to baseball, not only baseball in Detroit but around the country. He's going to be missed not only by the fans here, but folks like ourselves who get to spend time with him. He's a treasure.

Frank Beckmann, Tigers:

My favorite personal Ernie story comes from my first year of doing radio for the Tigers in 1995. Halfway through spring training, the spring with replacement players, I thought I was not doing a good job. I thought I was in a slump. I missed a couple of calls. I was really down on myself. I called Ernie, and I said, 'Frankly, I feel I'm not doing good job.'

He said, 'What do you mean? I think you're doing terrific.' I said, 'Last night, and I know the lighting isn't good, I didn't track a ball well. I think I called it really badly.'

He said, 'I didn't hear that at all. I thought the broadcast sounded really good.'

I said, 'You're kidding.'

He said, 'No, I'm serious.'

I said, 'Did you ever go through this?'

He said, 'Frank, everybody does. What you've got to remember is that only half of the people are listening, and the other half only hear half of what you say. You're going to make mistakes. We all make them. You've got to forget them and move on.'

After that, it was a piece of cake for me. He told me that everybody makes mistakes, and that a broadcast I thought was terrible, he thought sounded good. I said, 'That's really something.' I'll never forget the support he gave me as a baseball broadcaster, especially in my first year. It spoke volumes of him.

Ernie has never taken himself too seriously. He is offering entertainment as a baseball announcer. He's not here to solve world problems. He's helping people pass the time with baseball. That's part of what the magic of Ernie Harwell is. He's not hung up on himself.

Jim Price, Tigers:

Ernie's being in a good mood every day is the most phenomenal thing I've ever seen in my life. He's like one of these young ballplayers we just brought up from Toledo: always in a good mood, always kidding. One of the guys. You can't get anything by him.

He's the best broadcaster I've ever heard because he keeps it simple. He and I think statistics are overused. The most important statistic according to Ernie is runs scored.

Dan Dickerson, Tigers:

It was probably in the mid-'80s that I met him. We had a rotisserie baseball league in Grand Rapids. He was in town for a book signing. The head of the league invited Ernie to our end-of-the-season party, and of course Ernie being Ernie, he comes to this guy's house. That's Ernie. He's formed all these wonderful friendships on the road because fans call him out of the blue - they don't know him, he doesn't know them - and he says, yes, I'll go to lunch with you. And he's got these incredible friendships all over the country because he's willing to take a chance and meet people.

After I did my first Michigan football game in 1995 -- when Frank Beckmann would do the Tigers through September, and they needed a sub -- I got a note in the mail three days later from Ernie Harwell. It was one sentence: 'I heard your first broadcast - it was terrific.' I don't think I had been in touch with him for years. But that's the kind of thing he does.

We were in Baltimore this year, and my brother was there with his son. They came up to the booth for a brief visit. Ernie was throwing out the first pitch that day. My nephew, who is 10, watches Ernie do that and thinks that's kind of neat. We tell him a little about Ernie.

All my nephew wants that day is to get a ball. My brother and I are talking in the hallway outside the booth when Ernie comes up from the field after throwing out the first pitch. He sees me with my brother, whom he's met, and with my nephew. He reaches into his pocket, pulls out the ball that he's just thrown out for the first pitch in his last game in Baltimore, and gives it to my nephew, who's absolutely speechless.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:52 pm

Ernie was such a part of my youth. Listening to all those games on the radio was so important! Happy birthday Ernie!



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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:37 pm

HIS FINAL CALL: What Ernie said in his last game for the Tigers

January 22, 2008
From the Detroit Free Press

On Sept. 29, 2002, Ernie Harwell called his last game as a Tigers broadcaster. The Blue Jays won, 1-0, at Toronto. After the game, Ernie made a farewell address on the radio that lasted 75 seconds:

"The Tigers have just finished their 2002 season. And I've just finished my baseball broadcasting career, and it's time to say good-bye. But I think good-byes are sad, and I'd much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.

"I'm not leaving, folks. I'll still be with you, living my life in Michigan, my home state, surrounded by family and friends.

"And rather than good-bye, please allow me to say thank you.

"Thank you for letting me be part of your family. Thank you for taking me with you to that cottage up north, to the beach, the picnic, your work place and your backyard.

"Thank you for sneaking your transistor under the pillow as you grew up loving the Tigers.

"Now I might have been a small part of your life. But you have been a very large part of mine. And it's my privilege and honor to share with you the greatest game of all.

"Now God has a new adventure for me. And I'm ready to move on. So I leave you with a deep sense of appreciation for your longtime loyalty and support.

"I thank you very much, and God bless all of you."


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:40 pm

Quote :
"Thank you for sneaking your transistor under the pillow as you grew up loving the Tigers.

??? How did he know I did that. I did not want my parents to know I was not sleeping!
ashamed Shocked LMAO


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:45 pm

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

PARTY!


Coming Soon: A better signature!
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:20 am

Happy Birthday Ernie
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:21 am

Wish you would come out of retirement; GO ERNIE GO!
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:40 am

What a great line...That was how I got hooked on the Tigers too...
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:51 pm

I'm sure thousands of fans were created by listening to Harwell!


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:27 pm

No doubt about it. I am sure glad that I am one of them Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:45 pm

applaud applaud applaud :king:

Never heard him officially broadcast but from these accolades here he certainly is a prince!
Happy Birthday, Ernie!
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PostSubject: The Detroit Tiger Weblog Interviewing Ernie - Part 1   Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:14 pm

From: The Detroit Tiger Weblog by Billfer
http://www.detroittigersweblog.com/2005/04/interviewing-ernie-part-1.php/

Interviewing Ernie - Part 1
April 1st, 2005 at 1:07 pm

For those who have lived in the metro Detroit area, there is one voice that is instantly equated with summer. That voice belongs to Mr. Ernie Harwell. Harwell called Tiger games from 1960 through his retirement in 2002 (except for a messy 1992 season). Prior to coming to Detroit, he worked for Baltimore, the NY Giants, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He’s called no-hitters, World Series’, Willie Mays debut, Bobby Thomson’s shot heard round the world, and has seen and experienced the game like few others have. He remains the only announcer to be acquired via a trade (Branch Rickey sent Cliff Dapper to the Atlanta Crackers in exchange for Harwell). Harwell’s distinctive voice and no frills attention to detail led to a longevity that made evenings at the cottage with Ernie a tradition and rite of summer.

Mr. Harwell was kind enough to spend a morning speaking with me over the phone. Here is part 1 of that interview:

DTW: How is your retirement going?

EH: Well, retirement is going beautifully. I just took another direction, I’m still as active as I was, I’m just not doing play by play. I’m the spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield. We signed a ten year contract with a ten year option so I’m going to have to live to be 106 to fulfill it. But I’m going to do it or die trying, one or the other. It keeps me busy. I do a lot of speaking, a lot of commercials. They use me on the billboards at Ford Field, Comerica Park and all over Michigan. It’s been pretty productive for us and it’s been a great association.

Also I’ll be writing my column for the Free Press. It starts next week and I’ve been doing it every summer for 15 years now.

And in addition to that I do about 27 vignettes on FSN Detroit that they use. Just sort of stand up and tell a story and reminisce a little bit.

And other than that I’m just sort of hanging around here. I don’t miss the play by play much. I did it for seven decades and 55 years, so I feel like that was enough. I did enough damage and I’m just going to let other guys do it now.

DTW: Do you still follow the Tigers closely?

EH: Yes I do. I went down to spring training. I got to schmooze around with them a little bit. I had dinner with Alan Trammell and some of the other guys. I keep an eye on them, more as a fan now than as a worker. But, I don’t follow them quite as closely, naturally, because I don’t travel with them. But I go down to the ballpark now and then.

DTW: Do you watch the games on TV or listen on the radio?


EH: I listen on the radio most of the time, but if there’s TV I might look a little bit at that.

DTW: Do you have a prediction for how they’re going to finish this year?

EH: Well, I think everybody’s optimistic, but that’s part of it being spring time you know? I feel everything is going good. I think they’ll be better. I’m not quite as optimistic as some people. So much depends on that young pitching staff. We’ve got to wait and see if they continue to be promising and see how they establish themselves as major league starters.

DTW: Speaking of spring training and optimism, you started a tradition of reading a verse from the Song of Solomon (2, 11:12), the Voice of the Turtle. How did that begin?

EH: Well, I had been in Detroit for quite a while before that started. I’d say it was probably in the mid 70’s or early 80’s. I don’t have any idea that I can put my finger on it precisely. But I was reading that in the bible and it sort of struck me that this reminded me a lot of spring training and Opening Day, and I began to use it and people picked it up so I kept on using it.

DTW: Before coming to Detroit you were with the Dodgers, Giants, and Baltimore. What was it about Detroit that made it your final destination?

EH: Detroit was always a favorite city of mine when I traveled in the American League when I went to Baltimore in 1954. The first two games the Orioles played in their new Major League situation were in Tiger Stadium. I used to come to Detroit with the Orioles and I really liked the town a lot, and made some friends here. Then when Van Patrick was out as the announcer after the 1959 season, the Tigers got in touch with me and wanted to know if I’d be interested in leaving Baltimore. I felt like I had a good job there, and I was very happy there but I’d be foolish not to listen to an offer. They made me a good offer and I decided I’d come.

The franchise at that time was a well established franchise. It was a great baseball town, Michigan had terrific support for the Tigers. All those things enticed me to come here.

DTW: George Kell was involved in you coming to Detroit, as the two of you had met in Baltimore, and he was currently with the Tigers. Do you still keep in touch with Mr. Kell? I know that he’s had a rough streak.

EH: He’s had a tough time. I’ve called him several times. The last time I called him he couldn’t’ get to the phone, but I talked to his wife Carolyn. He has had a struggle.

When he was playing he got hurt in Baltimore, and he was up and around the press box so I said come on, get on the air with us. He did a few innings on the radio with us and seemed to like it. Then he got a job with CBS on the pregame show. He landed a job here [Detroit], and when an opening came up he called me in New York right at the end of the season in ‘59. He told me the Tigers were interested in me and asked if I’d come. So there was a little payback there and we had a great association.

DTW: One anecdote I heard about you in the booth is that you would set an egg timer to remind you to give the score. Is that true?

EH: I did that for a little while, but that was sort of a Red Barber thing. He did that in Brooklyn, and would give the score and then turnover the egg timer. But it took a little bit too long I think, to drain the sand out and I felt you ought to give the score a little more often than that. I really made that my number one priority. If you don’t do that the listener really can’t set himself or herself psychologically as to how to listen to the game. I believe that’s the first thing that an announcer has to do is to keep people informed about what the score is.

DTW: You called a number of significant moments, like pennant clinching games and no-hitters. Is there anything that you would do to prepare for those dramatic ninth innings?

EH: I never did that. I just thought it would be more effective if you just react to whatever happens. You can never anticipate how it’s going to happen. Sometimes, like Aaron’s homer you can look forward to, but it’s too contrived to prepare what you’re going to say. So I always just let it go and react in the way that it hit me when the event happened.

DTW: Calling the last inning at Tiger Stadium, you did something very uncharacteristic for you and ignored the action on the field to read a tribute. Were there any other times that you broke away from the game like that?

EH: No, I’d prepared a little bit of a speech there as I remember it. I felt like I had to do that. It was uncharacteristic, you’re right about that. I can’t remember another time. I think in Baltimore we came back and did something after the game was over. And I think in Toronto [Ernie’s final game] we did it right at the end of the game.

DTW: As part of the speech you prepared for the last game at Tiger Stadium, you referred to the stadium as , “My home, my office, my refuge…A timeless gift to the past.” What do you think should be done with Tiger Stadium and what do you think of it standing empty.

EH: Ideally I think they should make some kind of a shrine out of it. Maybe keep it alive and have sandlot baseball or something like that. But it seems like it is such a large problem to get money to maintain it, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think eventually it will either fall down or be the victim of the wrecking ball.

I know a lot of people in the years since the closing of the stadium had been imminent have had grandiose ideas about what to do but, nobody has come up with any money. They have a lot of neat things that they think should happen, but nobody comes up with the backing. I just don’t think it’s going anywhere.

DTW: At this point would you rather see it knocked down or have it sit there and rot?

EH: Well, I think so. It’s a matter of practicality. I think it would probably cost a lot more money to knock it down than have it fall down. Either way it is going to be a sad occasion, but I think the better way to do it would be to have the wrecking ball take over.

DTW: In your Hall of Fame induction speech, you read an essay you penned in 1955 called “Baseball - A Game for All America.” It’s been 50 years since you wrote that. Does it still hold true for you, and would you change it at all?

EH: Oh yeah, I’d bring it up to date. I’ve been tempted to do that. I think ESPN or CBS or somebody had a TV game opening the season and they asked me to change it a little bit and I did for that occasion. But I always felt that I should leave it as is. If I ever recite it I always say that times have changed and a lot of things have happened to the game, good and bad. But I really think the spirit of the game between the lines is pretty much the same as it was.

I’ve had people know it’s written in 1955 because you say things like Honus Wagner hit a triple 46 years ago [laughing], and there are a lot of great players that aren’t even mentioned in that. You have to be selective when you make it. For instance I didn’t mention Ted Williams although he was contemporary then. Then people that came later like Hank Aaron, and Roger Maris, and Barry Bonds aren’t even in there. That’s why I think it’s better to keep it the way it is and give a little preface.

Part 2 will becoming in the next day or two once I get a chance to transcribe it, and we’ll talk about the Hall of Fame, the Veterans Committee, and steroids in baseball.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: The Detroit Tiger Weblog Interviewing Ernie - Part 2   Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:24 pm

From: The Detroit Tiger Weblog by Billfer
http://www.detroittigersweblog.com/2005/04/interviewing-ernie-part-2php/

Interviewing Ernie - Part 2
April 2nd, 2005 at 9:10 am

Continuing on with my interview with Ernie Harwell. Click here for part one.

DTW: Since the format of the Veterans Committee was changed, there have been two elections, and nobody was elected. Do you think that?s appropriate, or do you think that the Committee will be changed again?

EH: Well, I think they might tweak it, but I think one of the strengths of the Baseball Hall of Fame is that it?s more difficult to get into than most other halls of fame in sports. And I?d like to keep it that way. I don?t think it?s really bad that you don?t elect anybody. But I also think that probably, in the long run, that the Veteran?s Committee is something that time has bypassed. I think most of the people that really belong in there, with a few exceptions, have been selected by the writers. I don?t like the idea of the second chance that is symbolized by the Veteran?s Committee. I know a lot of people disagree with that because there are some players that are on the cusp, on the margin there that I?d like to see in. But I like that it?s tough to get in.

DTW: My favorite player is Lou Whitaker, does he have a shot?

EH: I don?t think so. I think the voting that we?ve seen indicates that he wouldn?t have much of a chance. He?s very deserving if you look at the stats, and compare him with second basemen who are in there. He ranks right near the top I?d say, but there are a lot of things that factor in. One of them is exposure in the World Series. One of them is the media center in New York. I think a lot of things get factored in and he doesn?t have much of a chance.

DTW: So the same fate is probably true of his Tiger teammates like Trammell as well?

EH: Regretfully I have to say it does. His showing in the balloting just wasn?t strong enough to give us any optimism that he?ll get in.

DTW: Given the recent steroid allegations, if they came up on the VC ballot, would you vote for some of the guys who?ve been accused/suspected like Bonds and McGwire?


EH: I think I?d vote in favor of those two guys.

I really think the steroid situation will die down in a little while. It was brought to the attention of Congress and I think it?s a good that it?s out in the open. And I also felt that baseball could have avoided that if commissioner and players union had gotten together earlier and had nipped it in the bud, and issued a strong policy against steroids which they didn?t do. And they still haven?t done.

Although it was a great embarrassment to baseball, I think it?s good that it came out and maybe something will happen now to strengthen the ruling about using steroids.

The way I feel about records is that you have to take them as they come. I don?t believe anybody would be able to figure it out. Let?s take say Barry Bonds, and you were to make some asterisk to his home run total. I don?t know how you?d figure out when he started taking steroids, or if he did. It?s such a murky situation. I think we sort of have to just accept it, and as we talk about it just say ?well, he probably took steroids while he was playing.?

DTW: Does this just become another era like pre-segregation, WWII, the spitball era, the deadball era?

EH: Yeah, I think so. I think you?ve got to say back in 1909 guys were hitting less than 10 home runs and leading the league ?that was one era, just like you said. Then the spitball came in and went out and that was another era. Then you had the so-called lively ball coming in. Way back you had moving the pitching mound back to 60 feet, 6 inches. And you have more changes like that. You have smaller ball parks, bigger guys, and there are so many variations that come and go in baseball. I think this just has to be another one.

DTW: Speaking of eras, is there one you are most fond of, or would have like to have seen?

EH: I sort of would have liked to have been around during the dead ball era. I think that was pretty interesting. First the ballparks were primitive. The equipment wasn?t very good. But, maybe things were a little purer then, about the game than they are now. Though they had a lot of rascals, and a lot of things happened that they?d [laughing] put an evil eye on now. But from a standpoint of what we knew how people followed the game at that time, it was really more just a game. The only way people followed the games those days was through the newspapers. You didn?t have the investigation, and all the pressure and media attention that you have now that puts the spotlight on everything and digs in the dirt and brings out somethings we don?t want to know.

DTW: Over the years I know you?ve amassed a large collection of memorabilia and artifacts. Are there a couple that are most special to you?

EH: Well, I?ve gotten rid of most of them because I gave them to the library. The Detroit Public Library has most of my stuff. And when we moved in 2003, I just couldn?t bring the stuff with me so we had an auction. An auction house in Chicago auctioned off what was left that I didn?t give to the library. So I really don?t have anything anymore. I had a Babe Ruth check at one time. I had my World Series rings, a replica of the 1968 World Series trophy. I had signed pictures from guys. I was proud of all those things, but you?ve got to move on.

DTW: To wrap things up, I?m going to ask you about some of your favorites
DTW: What was your favorite season to call?


EH: Well, I think that it is probably 1968 or 1984. They were pretty equal. 1968 a little bit more maybe because it followed the riots and it was a longer interim between championships between ?45 and ?68 than ?68 and ?84. So I think that one would probably be my favorite.

Ebbetts field in Brooklyn was really great for me because it was my first job, and I really liked the people. The Dodgers had a contending team, a pennant winner my second year there.

There?s so many things. You know the Giants won in ?51 and that was a great thrill. Just going to Baltimore and being the first announcer there was a great break for me as well.

So it?s hard to put your finger on, but I?d probably say it?s the ?68 Tigers.

DTW: Favorite manager?

EH: I?ve got a lot of them. The guy I like the best out of all the managers I worked with was probably Sparky. I think he was probably the best manager that I saw. I liked Durocher, he was a good sharp one. Bob Scheffing was one of my personal favorites. Although he didn?t last too long, we were real close friends. Paul Richards was another one that I had a lot of admiration for. He taught me more about baseball than any of the other guys.

DTW: Favorite umpire?


EH: [laughing] I guess Nestor Shylack. I liked his attitude. I liked his enthusiasm. I liked the way he approached the game. I liked the way he was fairly liberal with not tossing guys out. And he was an excellent umpire. There were a lot of great ones, but I think probably he was my favorite.

DTW: Most interesting baseball character?

EH: I tell you we could make a list of a hundred of those. Norman Cash probably. Clint Courtney was another one. A fellow named Ray Murray in Baltimore, a sort of a journey man catcher was another one. Mark Fydrich. And Ted Williams was always an interesting personality I thought.

DTW: One of my favorite things about listening to you call games were the anecdotes that you?d sprinkle throughout the broadcast. What are a couple of your favorite baseball stories?

EH: Well you know, everybody has a different reaction I guess. One of them that I liked a lot was the rookie in the Southern League. Joe Engel was sort of the Barnum of Baseball in the minor leagues, sort of an early Bill Veeck. He had a shortstop that was holding out. In those days a telegram was a big deal. You negotiated by Western Union. He got a telegram from this guy who said ?Pay me $5000 or count me out.? So Joe Engel sent back a telegram that said, ?One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten.?

Another one I like is Gene Mauch, when he retired as a player he actually got a hammer and nails and nailed his shoes up against his locker.

Those things, there?s millions of them and it is sort of hard to put your finger on one. I sort of like the one about the two-tone bat. It started when Dixie Walker went to Louisville and he found a bat in a bucket of paint. About half way up the bat was one color, and the rest of the way up the bat was another color. That started the two-tone bat.

But all those things I like to delve into them because they are a little bit different.

At this point we wrapped things up and I thanked Mr. Harwell profusely.

He was very generous with this tims, and very patient with me as I nervously stumbled through my questions. I grew up listening to Ernie, and the number of times that he and Paul Carey put me to bed at night were countless. I’d set my clock-radio to ‘Sleep’ and listen as long as I could stay awake. When I shared that with Ernie his response was simply, “we sure cured a lot of insomnia.”

The biggest thrill for me doing this interview was listening to Ernie talk about some of his favorite stories. Each story on its own isn’t that remarkable. However, it is all the small stories, like the ones he shared, that seperate baseball from the other sports. It’s the funny quotes and situations that can only be born in the midst of a summer long schedule. When the stories are combined they form the fabric of the games itself. And to hear Ernie tell the stories in his own voice, that is what baseball is all about.

I know that some of you commented in the other post that you could hear Ernie saying the words as you read them. I exerienced a similar phenomenon while conducting the interview. Hearing him talk was so second nature, I almost forgot sometimes that I was having a conversation with him, and not listening on the radio. It was a tremendous thrill for me to do this, and I hope that you guys enjoy it.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:25 pm

Fantastic stuff on a fantastic man. Thanks Billfer for your great interviews.


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:49 am

Go Ernie!
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:23 am

Wow, still exercising at 90, that rules!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:07 am

the best!
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:07 am

I bet in ten years Ernie will be celebrating his 100th birthday
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:44 am

definitely possible!
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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:27 pm

Quote :
First, he will do 50 whirling dervishes -- a
stretching maneuver in which he fully extends his arms and alternately
turns his upper body to the left and right as fast as he can.

Then he will do about 25 lunges and 25 deep squats.

Then
he will jump rope for about 300 repetitions. "Or maybe about 30 more,
to figure I counted wrong -- for good measure, as they say," Ernie says.

Then he will get on his back and pull his knees to his chest, then do about 50 sit-ups, then stretch his back.

After
that, he will do deep breathing and -- still on his back -- pull his
knees to his chin several times. This won't be a onetime demonstration
of feisty fitness, meant to show himself just what he can do on his
90th birthday. He does this series of exercises to start every day.

How many of us young-uns could do all that, it's the reason he is still a young 90! Happy birthday Ernie!


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:16 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
Quote :
First, he will do 50 whirling dervishes -- a
stretching maneuver in which he fully extends his arms and alternately
turns his upper body to the left and right as fast as he can.

Then he will do about 25 lunges and 25 deep squats.

Then
he will jump rope for about 300 repetitions. "Or maybe about 30 more,
to figure I counted wrong -- for good measure, as they say," Ernie says.

Then he will get on his back and pull his knees to his chest, then do about 50 sit-ups, then stretch his back.

After
that, he will do deep breathing and -- still on his back -- pull his
knees to his chin several times. This won't be a onetime demonstration
of feisty fitness, meant to show himself just what he can do on his
90th birthday. He does this series of exercises to start every day.

How many of us young-uns could do all that, it's the reason he is still a young 90! Happy birthday Ernie!

I don't even want to know if I could do that Smile

Happy Birthday Mr. Harwell!


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PostSubject: Re: Ernie Harwell - turns 90 on Friday   Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:28 pm

It will definitely keep you from falling apart! Smile Good job, Ernie! You put Jack LaLanne to shame...
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