I was born in Detroit (in 1969) and my family lived there until 1981. For those who remember the 1970s (and that excludes many of my students, who seem to be mostly born after 1990), it was a time when you followed your favorite baseball team primarily via the radio. There was no Internet or ESPN. And for my family, no television (we didn’t have a TV for much of the 1970s). So we also missed the few games broadcast on network television.
But we did have the radio. And that meant we had Ernie Harwell. I can still remember spending summer night listening to Harwell call a baseball game. On most of these nights you would hear catch phrases like “he sat there like the house by the side of the road” (for a called third strike) or “a fan from (insert a place in Michigan or from wherever Harwell was calling a game) will be taking that ball home today” (something Harwell said when a foul ball went into the stands).
Harwell didn’t just impact sports fans. Each of my siblings – who I don’t think follow sports anymore — have contacted me over the past day or so expressing their sadness and memories of Harwell.
Beyond hearing these sentiments, I was also amazed to see the impact Harwell had beyond the state of Michigan. My home today is in Cedar City, Utah and our local paper is the Spectrum. In today’s paper is a lengthy story — Harwell’s Impact — written by Tom Zulewski. This story details Zulewski’s memories of one of the greatest people to ever call a baseball game. Zulewski’s story certainly made my morning. And if you are a fan of the Tigers who finds themselves far from Detroit, I think you will find it to be worth reading.
P.S. I should also note that MLive.com — one of my favorite places to read by Detroit sports — also has a tremendous amount of coverage of Ernie Harwell.