05.06.10  /  General

Ernie Harwell Defined Baseball

He started broadcasting baseball games in 1943, and was the voice of baseball in Detroit from 1960 until his retirement at the end of the 2002 season. In between, generations of baseball fans listened to his languid voice describe the game he loved more than any of the people listening.

Ernie Harwell passed away on Tuesday night, after a yearlong battle with cancer. He said his goodbye in a poingnant farewell address at the end of last season -- not that it makes losing him any easier, especially to the people he touched along the way.

Harwell is credited with a definitive piece of baseball literature: a poem he drafted in 1955 that encapsulated all that is beautiful about America's game, things that held true when he read them at his Hall of Fame induction in 1981, and still hold true as a mourning nation of fans re-reads it today.

Universally beloved, considered among the gentlemen of the game, Ernie Harwell will be missed. But never forgotten. No matter how much he insists he is. This, incidentally, is my favorite bit about Harwell: he was the TV announcer on the famous Shot Heard Round the World, but the call we remember is Russ Hodges on the radio. "Only Mrs. Harwell and I know that I was on TV that day," Harwell quipped.


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