Wednesday, May 5, 2010

RIP, Ernie Harwell

As a baseball fan, you knew the name: William Ernest Harwell.  The voice of the Detroit Tigers. Ernie Harwell died yesterday in Michigan.  He was 92

Ernie Harwell was born in Washington, Georgia, and grew up in Atlanta.  He attended Emory and called games for the Crackers, who were, by all accounts, the Yankees of minor league baseball.  He was traded for by Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey in 1948 for a catcher.  An announcer for a catcher is something that has never been done before or since.

He was the backup announcer for the Dodgers for a year, spelling a very ill Red Barber, then became the voice of the Giants from 1950-53, where he called the 1951 National League Championship tiebreaker series and Bobby Thompson's home run that sent the Giants to the World Series over their hated rivals, the Dodgers.  He moved to Baltimore for six years and in 1960, became the voice of the Tigers on WJR for over 40 years. He also called The Masters and a variety of other sports along the way.

He was well known for his soft drawl and home spun Southern-isms (you know, the things you and I say with regularity). With apologies to Lewis Grizzard, I believe God talks like Ernie Harwell.

Ernie began each new season's broadcast with a bible verse, one that captures the new beginning that baseball, after a long winter (especially a winter spent in Detroit), is bound to bring:
"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." Song of Solomons 2:11-12
RIP, Ernie Harwell.  May your spring in heaven be glorious.


  1. Very sad indeed. I'm still trying to brace myself for when Vin hangs up his mike.