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 Harwell says thanks to baseball friends

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PostSubject: Harwell says thanks to baseball friends   Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:39 pm



Harwell says thanks to baseball friends
Fans, players show admiration for broadcaster in cheers

click here to see video of the event

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

09/16/09 9:18 PM ET
updated: 09/17/09 12:48 AM ET

DETROIT -- Ernie Harwell said thank you to thousands of his friends at Comerica Park on Wednesday night, and many more watching on television. Fans, players, baseball people, media and officials thanked him back with their cheers.

Nearly two weeks after Harwell was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, the Hall of Fame broadcaster and Tigers icon appeared at his old workplace for what might be one last time as the Tigers beat Royals, 4-3. He met with the team before the game, then with the umpires, then with the media just before first pitch and before making an emotional appearance on the field in the middle of the third inning.

Harwell, who watched the first couple innings from team owner Mike Ilitch's suite, came down to field level and walked out behind home plate to a standing ovation, raising his arms before turning to the fans. A video tribute that included some of his legendary calls played on the scoreboard beyond left field with a message, "Thanks for the memories, Ernie!"

As Harwell joked while the standing ovation continued, "We don't want to be penalized now for delay of the game."

He didn't want it to be a goodbye, but a thank you to fans. Still, given Harwell's place in the hearts of so many Tigers fans, the emotions made it feel like more than that.

"It's a wonderful night for me," Harwell said. "I really feel lucky to be here, and I want to thank you for that warm welcome. I want to express my deep appreciation to Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers for that video salute and also for the many great things they've done for me and my family throughout my career here with the Tigers.

"In my almost 92 years on this Earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey, and the blessed part of that journey is that it's going to end here in the great state of Michigan. I deeply appreciate the people of Michigan. I love their grit. I love the way they face life. I love the family values they have. And you Tiger fans are the greatest fans of all, no question about that.

"And I certainly want to thank you from the depth of my heart for your devotion, your support, your loyalty and your love. Thank you very much, and God bless you."

It was slightly reminiscent of his speech to listeners after his last game in 2002: short, to the point, but heartfelt.

"It was vintage Ernie," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after the game.

Leyland said before the game that he met with his team to make sure they knew about Harwell -- not just the broadcaster, but the person -- because so many players weren't here during his final season as the Tigers' play-by-play broadcaster in 2002. He might not have had to.

The respect was evident. The Tigers dugout emptied onto the field as Harwell prepared to walk out. Every player stood facing Harwell, either outside the dugout or in the bullpen, as he spoke. The Royals stepped out of their dugout to do the same.

That gesture, shortstop Adam Everett said, wasn't planned in advance.

"He came in here and talked to us," catcher Gerald Laird said, "and I was kind in awe of some of the names he mentioned that he knew through the years in baseball, like Ruth and Ted Williams. This guy's been around the greats, and he's great himself. It's definitely something I'll cherish the rest of my life."

Laird, like many of his teammates, had never met Harwell. Everett met him for the first time Monday, when Nate Robertson and a couple other people visited Harwell at his home in nearby Novi.

"He's a tremendous guy, sharp as a tack," Everett said. "The first thing he said when I came in was, 'Georgia boy!' "

Harwell, like Everett, grew up in Georgia. When Everett mentioned his hometown, Harwell knew exactly where it is.

"He's just amazing," Everett said. "To see where he's at right now, and the way he's handling it, it's just unbelievable."

Harwell's upbeat tone was similar as he thanked reporters in the press box that bears his name. It wasn't an interview, but a greeting.

"I'm a failed newspaper man myself," he said. "I wanted to be a sportswriter when I was younger, working on the [Atlanta] Constitution, doing everything that nobody else would do. Thought maybe I'd be the next Grantland Rice, but it didn't happen. God had another plan for me. Couldn't get a job on the paper, and I got into radio. Stuck with radio and television, and it stuck with me up until 2002.

"It's wonderful to see so many friends here, so many smiling faces. It's just great to be with you, and I'm happy to say hello."

Harwell is still moving around well, though he said to media members that he didn't "feel too good, a little shaky." That was the only reference he made to his health.

In the third inning, once Harwell finished speaking, he waved to fans, who gave a standing ovation as he came back through the tunnel behind home plate.

"If we're all at peace with ourselves as much as he is, that's pretty good," Leyland said.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell says thanks to baseball friends   Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:59 pm

FROM THE DETROIT NEWS

Retired Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell addresses the media


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN



Ernie Harwell addresses his fellow members of the media
--09/16/2009

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell says thanks to baseball friends   Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:03 am

Celebrating Ernie Harwell - FROM THE FREE PRESS

CLICK ON HEADLINE TO SEE Stories, memories, photos and audio of the legendary Tigers broadcaster, who is battling cancer.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell says thanks to baseball friends   Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:08 am



“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell says thanks to baseball friends   Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:44 am

oh, yes - I grew up with him. Simply the best. Forget Faux sports.
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell says thanks to baseball friends   Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:35 pm

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Players are glad to see Ernie Harwell
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Ernie will take this the right way -- because he's Ernie.

And he takes everything the right way. Even the illness that will eventually bring him down.

But when former Tiger Rusty Kuntz, now a coach with the visiting Kansas City Royals, heard that Harwell was going to address the crowd on Wednesday night, that the ailing Hall-of-Fame broadcaster would be saying "thank you" to the fans, players and media, he said: "This is better than Christmas for me.

"To think of all the days they could have done this, and we were here for it. I've got goose bumps."

Christmas? Why not?


A time for giving ...

Kuntz couldn't have known how right he was.

Because the voice that was our companion for generations gave us one more moment by which to remember it -- plus another glimpse of the grace with which Harwell has lived his life.

"If we're all at peace with ourselves as much as he is," manager Jim Leyland said, "that's pretty good. I'm not sure I am."

During the ceremony in the third inning, Harwell was cheered by home team and visitors alike. Kuntz, who played for the 1984 World Championship Tigers, took photos.

You'll recall, if you're old enough, that it was Kuntz' odd sacrifice fly to second baseman Alan Wiggins in the fifth game of the Series against the San Diego Padres that put the Tigers ahead for good.

It wasn't one of the "instant runs" Harwell used to talk about the Tigers needing, but it instantly turned a journeyman outfielder into a household name.

"I feel honored to be here on the same night this is going on," Kuntz said. "What a wonderful man. Really, I've got goose bumps about this."

Harwell began his visit to Comerica Park by speaking to the Tigers in their clubhouse.

"Vintage Ernie," Leyland said.

"Special," Carlos Guillen said.

"I was in awe of some of the names he mentioned," Gerald Laird said. "He was around the greats -- and he was great himself. This was something I'll cherish the rest of my life."

Most of the Tigers weren't on the team when he retired from broadcasting following the 2002 season. For Alex Avila, now a catcher on the Tigers, it was his first year in Detroit after his father, Al, was hired as an assistant general manager.

"I was still in high school, but I was such a baseball fan, I knew who Ernie was," Alex said. "It was very emotional in here when he spoke."

Even the kids were impressed.

"Had I heard of him?" Rick Porcello said, repeating a question. "If you know baseball, you know Ernie Harwell."

If you know the voices of baseball, you also know Ernie.

"I really admire the fact that talking to the team and addressing the fans is what he wanted to do," Curtis Granderson said. "I even received a text today saying: 'Win it for Ernie.' "

tom.gage@detnews.com


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PostSubject: Re: Harwell says thanks to baseball friends   Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:39 pm

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Ernie Harwell's farewell speech
Detroit News staff

"Thank you very much. We don't want to be penalized for the delay of the game. But I do want to express my feelings here. It's a wonderful night for me. I really feel lucky to be here. And I want to thank you for that warm welcome. ...

"I want to express my deep appreciation to Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers for that video salute, and also for the many great things they've done for me and my family throughout my career here with the Tigers.

"In my almost 92 years on this earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey, and the blessed part of that journey is it's going to end here in the great state of Michigan.

"I deeply appreciate the great people of Michigan. I love their grit. I love the way they face life. I love the family values they have. And you Tiger fans are the greatest fans of all. No question about that.

"And I certainly want to thank you from the depth of my heart, for your devotion, your support, your loyalty and your love. Thank you very much and God bless you."


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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