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 Harwell relives career on MLB Network

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PostSubject: Harwell relives career on MLB Network   Thu Nov 12, 2009 5:10 pm



Harwell relives career on MLB Network
Hall of Fame announcer reflects while dealing with cancer

By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com

11/12/09 2:51 PM EST

For decades, legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell impacted millions through the airwaves with his soothing voice -- especially Tigers fans who hung on his every word.

Now he sees it all coming to an end.

"This will be my last World Series, I think," Harwell recently said to Bob Costas in an interview that will air on MLB Network next week. "Back in July, the doctors gave me six months to live, give or take a few months. I'm hoping to reach my birthday on Jan. 25, but I'm pretty sure I won't make the baseball season.

"But you never know, as the Lord works wonders."

Through 55 years as a play-by-play announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Orioles and Tigers, Harwell did nothing but work wonders in front of the microphone.

On Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, MLB Network's Studio 42 with Bob Costas will debut an interview with Harwell that sees him relive it all -- from his move to Brooklyn in the mid-20th Century, through a dazzling career that made him a Hall of Fame broadcaster and up until being diagnosed with inoperable cancer in September.

At the interview's close, the 91-year-old Harwell recites the speech he gave upon being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Aug. 2, 1981.

Among other things, Harwell tells Costas about playing cards with Jackie Robinson, taking the job with the Tigers in 1960 and the art of his craft.

"All I tried to do was be myself," Harwell said. "I wanted to broadcast the game that I thought I'd like to hear as a listener. I tried to give the score as often as I could. I let the play take over and fill in with anecdotes or historical information that maybe nobody else came up with. There were going to be some people who like you and some who don't like you, and you have to accept that when you start out."

But everybody likes Harwell.

For as gifted as he was calling a baseball game, those who know him best will say his most special gift is the way he treated people -- from the higher-ups in the organization he dealt with on a daily basis to the clubhouse attendants he occasionally bumped into.

"The thing I enjoyed working with Ernie was we always had a good time," Tigers radio broadcaster Jim Price, who previously worked in the booth with Harwell, said in early September. "He was always upbeat. He'd laugh on the air, tell stories, and I loved to get Ernie laughing."

Though he was recently diagnosed with an inoperable tumor around his bile duct, Harwell said he's still enjoying his time.

"I'm not overwhelmed by the circumstances," he told Costas. "One of the doctors said, 'If you were my father, I'd say don't do anything, just relax and wait for the inevitable.' But I had great peace about that and closure to it, and I knew God was in charge, and whatever happens, happens for the best."

Upon getting the diagnosis, Harwell opted not to undergo surgery, chemotherapy or any type of radiation. He just wanted to stay at home with family and friends for whatever amount of time he had left.

Then, on Sept. 16, he got up in front of his much bigger family, as the Tigers paid tribute to Harwell at Comerica Park, and a stadium full of fans -- many of whom overwhelmed his mailbox with thoughtful letters -- hung on his every word one last time.

"The old voice hasn't changed that much in 50 years, and I think mainly the genes, the good health the Lord gave me and the fact I enjoyed the job so much," Harwell said about his on-field speech in the middle of the third inning of the Tigers' game against the Royals. "I never looked at it as work. It was something I got great pleasure out of -- getting to know the people in baseball, traveling with them and being a part of that great Major League Baseball fraternity.

"It was very heartwarming for me to see the way people felt about me."

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


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


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell relives career on MLB Network   Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:01 pm

Last Updated: November 12. 2009 6:57PM
Ernie Harwell opens up about battle with cancer
Tony Paul / The Detroit News

Hall of Fame Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell opened up to Bob Costas about his cancer fight in a recent television interview that will air next week.

Harwell, 91, who this summer was diagnosed with inoperable bile-duct cancer, told Costas, "I'm hoping to reach my birthday on Jan. 25, but I'm pretty sure I won't make the baseball season.

"But you never know as the Lord works wonders."

Harwell, who spent 55 years as a major league announcer, including 40 with the Tigers before retiring at the end of the 2002 season, told Costas that doctors in July gave him six months to live, "give or take a few months."

The MLB Network (channel 279 on Comcast, 213 on DirecTV) released excerpts Thursday of the interview, which will air at 8 p.m. Tuesday and rebroadcast at 10 p.m. The program will close with Harwell reciting the speech he gave at his Hall of Fame induction Aug. 2, 1981.

Here are more excerpts from the interview:

On his cancer battle: I'm not overwhelmed by the circumstances. One of the doctors said, "If you were my father, I'd say, don't do anything, just relax and wait for the inevitable." But I had great peace about that and closure to it and I knew God was in charge and whatever happens, happens for the best. I really have a lot of serenity and great support from my wife family and friends. It's been so far a fairly easy task to accept it.

On returning to Comerica Park on Sept. 16: That was a great event for me. First of all, I addressed the team, which was a real honor. Jim Leyland had the whole team around. And after a couple innings, they sent me out there with a microphone and I said a few words of farewell. It was very heartwarming for me to see the way people felt about me.

The old voice hasn't changed that much in 50 years and I thank mainly the genes, the good health the Lord gave me, and the fact I enjoyed the job so much. I never looked at it as work. It was something I got great pleasure out of; Getting to know the people in baseball, traveling with them, and being a part of that great Major League Baseball fraternity.

On support from the fans: I don't think there's any reason for this response except that I was the Tiger announcer. I showed up and did the best I could. I tried to be myself and my whole philosophy was the game was the main thing and don't ever interfere with the game. People tune in to what the Tigers are doing. No matter whose doing the game, they're going to tune in.

On being a local MLB announcer: I do feel like those people out there were my friends and I hope I was their friend. It is a unique association that you have with your listener. I really appreciate the fact that they've taken interest in me. I don't know that I deserve that. All I tried to do was be myself. I wanted to broadcast the game that I thought I'd like to hear as a listener. I tried to give the score as often as I could. I let the play take over and fill in with anecdotes or historical information that maybe nobody else came up with. There were going to be some people who like you and some who don't like you and you have to accept that when you start out.

On moving from the segregated South to Brooklyn in 1948: It was a little strange seeing a black man play against white competition. I accepted it and Jackie Robinson became a very good friend of mine. I played cards with him, played golf with him, rode the train with him. It's the most exciting and most eventful thing that's happened in sports history, the breaking of the color line by Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey.

On leaving Baltimore in 19650 and taking the job with Detroit: So I made the jump and it was probably the best move I ever made because the people in Michigan have really been super. They're great fans, it's an original franchise, and they have a great passion for baseball.

tpaul@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell relives career on MLB Network   Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:36 am

I wish I had MLB Network... Frown


bow Z. Miner
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell relives career on MLB Network   Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:57 pm

bobrob2004 wrote:
I wish I had MLB Network... Frown

I will record it and have it on dvd.


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PostSubject: Re: Harwell relives career on MLB Network   Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:08 pm




Legendary Harwell sits down with Costas
Broadcaster was the voice of the Tigers from 1960 until 2002

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

11/18/09 12:22 AM EST

If this was one of the final times for baseball fans to listen to Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, they'll have an even greater appreciation of his career.

In an extensive interview with Bob Costas that aired on MLB Network's "Studio 42" on Tuesday night, Harwell said that he simply tried to give the kind of broadcast he'd like to hear during a career that spanned more than a half-century. He also sounded at peace with the expectation that he won't last into next baseball season as he battles inoperable cancer.

Much like his speech to fans at Comerica Park last September, he gave fans the sense that he's ready for what's ahead.

"I'm not overwhelmed by the circumstances," Harwell said. "One of the doctors said, 'If you were my father, I'd say don't do anything, just relax and wait for the inevitable.' But I had great peace about that and closure to it, and I knew God was in charge, and whatever happens, happens for the best. I really have a lot of serenity, and great support from my wife, family and friends.

"I just want to take good care of my wife and the family and try to let them be at peace as I go through this process."

Costas interviewed the 91-year-old Harwell for the hour-long program a couple of weeks ago, during the World Series. Harwell noted the significance by saying it would probably be his last World Series. Still, he looked remarkably healthy and comfortable given his condition, which Costas noted to him.

"It looks like I'll die pretty healthy," Harwell said half-jokingly, though he noted that his comfort level will deteriorate as the cancer worsens.

After talking about his condition, Harwell spent most of the interview looking back on his life and his career, from the day he got Babe Ruth to autograph his shoe as a kid to his interviews with Ty Cobb as a radio host in Atlanta.

Then, of course, he discussed his broadcasting career -- from the trade that brought him from Atlanta to the Major Leagues to his lost call of Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World to win the 1951 National League pennant for the Dodgers.

"Russ Hodges and I were the two announcers, and we alternated between radio and TV," Harwell said. "And on that particular day, Oct. 3, it turned out that I was going to be on TV. And I thought, 'Wow, this is going to be a lot better assignment than poor old Russ, with those five radio broadcasts. He'll sort of get lost, and I'm on coast-to-coast by myself on NBC, the first sports series ever telecast coast-to-coast. This is a big moment. And sure enough, it happened, and Russ made that great call. I was on TV when [Bobby] Thomson hit the home run. I just said, 'It's gone,' and [Andy] Pafko watched it go into the row of the seats for the home run that won the pennant.

"There was no record of my voice at all. People didn't record things in those days, and of course, Russ was recorded. The sponsor Chesterfield got out a record, it became the greatest sports broadcast of all time. And only Mrs. Harwell and I know I was on [the air] that afternoon."

Nonetheless, he called that one of the two greatest moments to call of his career. The other was Jim Northrup's triple in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series.

Harwell called his decision to take the Tigers' offer "probably the best move I ever made, because the people of Michigan have really been super. They're great fans. It's an original franchise. They know their baseball. They have a great passion for it. It goes generation to generation. People used to come to Briggs Stadium and then Tiger Stadium and then Comerica Park. They hand it down from generation to generation."

Harwell also offered some revealing insights on Bo Schembechler, the Michigan football coaching great turned Tigers team president who made the decision to let go of Harwell in 1992.

Harwell admitted that he was probably mad at Schembechler at the time for dismissing him, "but I accepted it. I knew that everybody could be replaced. Nobody lasts forever. And if you work for somebody, he's certainly got the privilege and the right to fire you.

"It was certainly a blow to me, but I think in the long run, it's probably the best thing that happened to my career, because it brought some undue attention toward me around Michigan and Detroit. I recovered. Mr. Mike Ilitch bought the team, and within a year I was back broadcasting for the Tigers. It was something that I had to accept. Once again, I leaned on my faith, and I knew for some reason this was happening and it would eventually work out for the best."

The two never did make amends, he said, "but I forgave him. It's in the past. He was a great football coach. I had a lot of admiration for him. I never had any problems with him. It's just they felt they were going in a 'new direction.' "

Harwell once again expressed his humble amazement at the outpouring of emotion and well wishes that the people of Michigan have given him since he went public with his diagnosis.

"I do feel like those people out there were my friends," Harwell said, "and I hope I was their friend, because it is a unique association that you have with your listener. I really appreciate the fact that they take an interest in me. I don't know if I deserve that, but all I tried to do was just be myself."

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


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell relives career on MLB Network   Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:57 pm

Highlights from Ernie Harwell interview
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 9:28 PM

Honestly, there were more highlights from Ernie Harwell's lengthy interview with Bob Costas for the hour-long Studio 42 show than I have room to describe. Some were included in the preview article from last week. Still, it's worth finding room to mention quite a few, especially those that would be pertinent for Tigers fans.

On his situation: "This will be my last World Series, I think. Back in July, the doctors gave me six months to live, give or take a few months. I'm hoping to reach my birthday on Jan. 25, but I'm pretty sure I won't make the baseball season. But you never know, as the Lord works wonders."

When Costas remarked at how healthy Harwell looked, that he didn't look like he was dying, Harwell cited something he heard from former Michigan governor George Romney: "I want to die healthy." Then he added, "And it looks like I'll die pretty healthy."

On his relationship with Tigers fans and the affection they have for him: "I do feel like those poeple out there were my friends, and I hope I was their friend, because it is a unique association that you have with your listener. I really appreciate the fact that they take an interest in me. I don't know if I deserve that, but all I tried to do was just be myself. I wanted to broadcast the game that I thought I would like to hear as a listener. And I tried to give the score as often as I could. That was my main concern, and then let the play take over. And of course you can't just say ball one, strike one. You have to fill in and usually I did with anecdotes or historical information that maybe nobody came up with and let the chips fall where they may. There's going to be some people who like you and some people who don't like you, and you have to accept that starting out."

He was pretty revealing on Bo Schembechler, the Michigan football coach turned Tigers president. On the decision to let him go after the 1992 season, he admitted maybe he didn't like Schembechler for it, but that he got over it.

"I knew that everybody could be replaced. Nobody lasts forever. And if you work for somebody, he's certainly got the privilege and the right to fire you. It was certainly a blow to me, but I think in the long run, it's probably the best thing that happened to my career, because it brought some undue attention toward me and caused quite a commotion around Michigan and Detroit. I recovered. Mr. Mike Ilitch bought the team and within a year I was back broadcasting for the Tigers. It was something that I had to accept. Once again I leaned on my faith and I knew for some reason this was happening and it would eventually work out for the best."

On whether Schembechler ever came up and apologized to him, or talked to him about it: "No, he never did, but I forgave him. It's in the past. He was a great football coach. I had a lot of admiration for him. I never had any problems with him. It's just they felt they were going in a 'new direction.'"

On his long-lost call of The Shot Heard 'Round the World, which was overshadowed by Russ Hodges' radio call: "Russ Hodges and I were the two announcers, and we alternated between radio and TV. And on that particular day, Oct. 3, it turned out that I was going to be on TV. And I thought, 'Wow, this is going to be a lot better assignment than poor old Russ with those five radio broadcasts. He'll sort of get lost, and I'm on coast to coast by myself on NBC, the first sports series ever telecast coast to coast. This is a big moment. And sure enough, it happened and Russ made that great call. I was on TV when [Bobby] Thomson hit the home run. I just said It's gone and [Andy] Pafko watched it go into the row of the seats for the home run that won the pennant.

"There was no record of my voice at all. People didn't record things in those days, and of course, Russ was recorded. The sponsor Chesterfield got out a record, it became the greatest sports broadcast of all time. And only Mrs. Harwell and I know I was on that afternoon."

Nonetheless, he called that one of his two greatest moments to call in his career. The other was Jim Northrup's triple in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series.

On his move to Detroit to broadcast for the Tigers: "It's probably the best move I ever made, because the people of Michigan have really been super. They're great fans. It's an original franchise. They know their baseball. They have a great passion for it that and other sports, too. It goes generation to generation People that used to come to Briggs Stadium and then Tiger Stadium and then Comerica Park. They hand it down from generation to generation."

On growing up in the south and then breaking into the Major Leagues broadcasting Dodgers games and Jackie Robinson: "I think what tempered my feelings even before I got to Brooklyn was that, when I was with the Marines, I saw that the African Americans were just as good as the white people in whatever they did. I really had a feeling of comfort when I went up there about the racial issue. It didn't bother me at all. It was a little strange because I'd never seen a black man play against white competition, but it was there, and I accepted it. And Jackie became a very good friend of mine. I played cards with him, played golf with him, rode the train with him. It was the most exciting, most eventful thing I think that's happened in sports history, the breaking of the color line by Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey."

He closed out the interview by reciting his speech from his Hall of Fame induction, by memory, word for word. Amazing.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Harwell relives career on MLB Network   Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:38 am

THIS SEGMENT IS SUPPOSED TO BE RE-BROADCAST ON MLBN

Studio 42 With Bob Costas, "Ernie Harwell", MLBN Dec 4 8:00 AM


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