"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
Ernie Harwell from
The Song of Solomon
Today, Major League Baseball has lost one of the best voices ever to grace the radio waves, or the television for that matter. Ernie Harwell has succumbed to cancer at the age of 92. Though he was not a Yankee announcer, his New York ties included a season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and a four season stint with the New York Giants. Among his greater known calls was "The Shot Heard Round The World". Harwell is probably best known however for his time with the Detroit Tigers, with whom he spent 1960-1991. In today's ho-hum broadcasting on radio and television, it is rare to hear a voice which spoke with such conviction about whatever team he was covering at the time.
Harwell also called 2 All Star Games (1958, 1961), two World Series (1963, 1968), and the CBS radio game of the week from 1992-1997.
In 1981 he was awarded the Ford C. Frick award, by the Baseball Hall Of Fame. He was the 5th person to receive the award, which is given to broadcasters for the "contributions to baseball". He is also enshrined in the Michigan Sportscasters Hall Of Fame, and was the Michigan Sportscaster of the Year 19 times. In addition he is also in the Michigan Sports Hall Of Fame, and the National Radio Hall Of Fame. The press box at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers is named the "Ernie Harwell Media Center".
Last year, Bob Costas sat down with him and conducted a wonderful interview, which you can read excerpts from, here.
Ernie never forgot what the game of baseball meant to all of us. This was never more evident than in his 1955 essay, which you can listen to on MP3 here. I challenge all of you who love the game as much as I do to take a listen, and then forget about all the garbage that goes on sometimes.
While the Detroit Tigers have lost a friend today, one can argue that we all have as well. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Harwell family, may he rest in peace.