Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Why everyone loves Ernie
. . . .

Why everyone loves Ernie

George Foster - May 10th, 2010
Why everyone loves Ernie
We always knew that when he passed away, Ernie Harwell would
qualify for sainthood in the state of Michigan.
But let me state a fact up front - Ernie Harwell was not a great
baseball announcer, at least in the modern sense. If you have listened
to Ernie over the decades as much as I, you know he made more than his
share of on-the-air mistakes. Some must have been highly embarrassing
to Harwell.
I’ve heard him state this one more than once, “There’s a pop-up on
the infield and it’s going, going, gone for a home run.” Somehow,
though, the gaffs made him seem even more likeable – a regular guy,
not a smooth and polished talking machine.
Also, Ernie used his words sparingly – his extended pauses
sometimes caused me to check my radio to see if it was still powered
on. In today’s broadcasts, you rarely hear a moment of silence by the
game’s announcers – mostly mindless jabbering just to fill in the
time.
If Harwell wasn’t the slickest announcer in history, why the big
fuss about him? For one thing, we embraced Ernie because he represents
the idyllic days of youth. A co-worker mentioned to me that she
remembers the contentment of Harwell’s soothing, Southern drawl
describing Tigers games while her dad worked around her childhood home
every summer. She may not know Al Kaline from Allan Trammell, but
Ernie Harwell’s voice has the power to stir something inside of us –
for me that something makes me feel good.
Ernie was an original. As a baseball historian, he entertained us
with his stories in the early days of the game about colorful
characters such as Ty Cobb and “Wahoo” Sam Crawford. During Tigers
games Harwell coined sentences like, “Mantle stood there like the
house beside the road and watched that one go by for strike three.” Or
“Gibson gave the umpire the ol’ family-look after that pitch.” Or “a
woman from Livonia grabbed that foul ball” – how did he know where she
was from?
When the memorial to Harwell was held at Comerica Park
recently, sports analysts criticized some fans for being disrespectful
by photographing him as many thousands passed by. Well what do you
expect when a figure as beloved as Erie Harwell is laid to rest in an
open coffin? There will always be knuckle-heads who don’t know any
better.
Ernie wouldn’t appreciate any controversy attached to his
passing. Even when the Tigers fired him 20 years ago, he never
criticized the organization or anyone for being dumped so
unceremoniously. He remained silent on the subject though it was
obvious that his sudden dismissal pained him deeply. Eventually he was
reinstated when Mike Ilitch bought the team a few years later.
The outpouring of love for Ernie Harwell at his passing is
mostly because he was a great man. He is famous for being kind and
thoughtful to everyone. When I interviewed him about 15 years ago, I
was a nobody from an unfamiliar newspaper - yet, he gave me as much
time as I needed. We talked about baseball for a long time, so long
that I had to excuse myself in order to get other work done. Everyone
Ernie has encountered has similar stories to share.
We usually refer to Harwell simply as “Ernie” - like a favorite
uncle. Maybe that is the best explanation of why the accolades for
Harwell just keep coming and have been beyond what any other sports
icon in Michigan may ever receive.
Ernie Harwell seemed like a member of the family.

 
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