Blog Entry

It's a sadder world without Ernie

Posted on: May 4, 2010 9:11 pm
A couple of weeks had gone by since Ernie Harwell told the world he had inoperable cancer, and Rick Reed called Harwell to say hello and offer a few words of support.

And all Harwell wanted to do was ask how Reed was doing in his return to umpiring, after suffering a stroke.

"I called to ask about him," Reed said a few days later. "And he kept asking about me."

And that was Ernie Harwell.

The baseball world is a sadder place tonight, with the news that Harwell died at his home in suburban Detroit. We knew it was coming, but it still leaves us with an empty feeling.

It leaves us wishing that Ernie was here to make us feel better.

He touched so many people in his 92 years, many through the radio and almost as many, it seemed, in person. I know, because it feels like everywhere I've gone in the seven years since Harwell retired as a Tiger broadcaster, someone has asked about him.

"How's Ernie? Do you see Ernie? Tell him I said hello."

The questions kept coming, after Harwell announced he had cancer, but the tone had changed. The questions were whispered.

"What do you hear about Ernie?"

Umpires asked. Scouts asked. Managers asked. And, of course, broadcasters asked.

They cared, because in one way or another, Harwell had shown he cared about them.

I know the feeling. I won't forget that he invited a rookie beat writer to have dinner with him and one of his friends years ago in Baltimore. Or that he called out of the blue years later to congratulate me for getting this job with I would never say we were close, except that Ernie had a way of making everyone feel they were close.

You knew it if you listened to the Tigers every night on the radio. You knew it if you were ever fortunate enough to meet him.

Rick Reed knew it.

That was Ernie Harwell.
Category: MLB

Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: May 5, 2010 7:44 am

It's a sadder world without Ernie

At 58 years old, I can remember hiding a small transistor radio in my school desk so I could hear Ernie call a Tiger's afternoon game.  I can remember Ernie announcing that a man from Grand Rapids caught that foul ball.  I can remember the many homers from Cash, Colavito, Kaline, Northrup, Horton, and Cecil being "long gone".  I remember a Tiger opponent taking a third strike and "standing there like a house beside the road."   We've all lost a baseball icon, a true aficienado of the game, but above all that, we've lost one of the most wonderful gentlemen that has ever walked on this good earth.  Baseball has lost one of it's greatest, but heaven has gained a lead angel.  RIP Ernie, and thanks!

Since: Aug 12, 2009
Posted on: May 5, 2010 2:19 am

It's a sadder world without Ernie

I grew up spending summers in the 80's in Michigan, and quickly grew used to hearing Ernie and Paul Carrey call teh games for the Tigers.  I was hooked at a young age.  They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

When I was back home in Nebraska, I would struggle with the radio as I would ever so faintly pick up WJR 760 and tune in at the right time of night to pick up the signal.  What a treat.  I feel sorry that my children missed hearing him, he was just that great. 

What a fantastic broadcaster and a great gentleman.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: May 4, 2010 11:05 pm

It's a sadder world without Ernie

"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."

For those who don't know why I pasted the above passage from the Song of Solomon, those who grew up Tiger fans all know that every spring Ernie opened the first radio broadcast of Spring Training with that quote..  What a way to start the season.  I too used to lie in bed and listen to the broadcasts, remember back then games were only on TV maybe 1-2 times a week.  Another part of my childhood gone.  Ernie was the best.

Since: Aug 4, 2007
Posted on: May 4, 2010 11:02 pm

It's a sadder world without Ernie

he stood there like the house on the side of the road, and watched that one go by
classic line from among many, Ernie was the best ever

Since: Dec 17, 2009
Posted on: May 4, 2010 10:43 pm

It's a sadder world without Ernie

Broke my heart to here of Mr Harwells passing today. Feel as if I've lost a close friend. Spent a significant amount of time during my childhood listening to Ernie on my bedside radio when I should have been sleeping. In my 39 years of life, I would be hard pressed to find a more revered man in our state of Michigan now or ever. It was good to see him one last time @ Commerica Park last September, but I will always yearn for that last "it's looooooooooong gone." A total class act, an icon, and legend that will never be forgotten.

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: May 4, 2010 10:27 pm

It's a sadder world without Ernie

As a kid in Windsor Ontario I'd see the lights come on in Tiger Stadium looking across the river out my bedroom window and turn on the radio and there'd be Ernie. Often he'd say score that 5-3 if you're scoring at home. Well, soon  I started scoring at home, now I play over 60 ball and I still think of Ernie every time someone hands me the score sheet, and I score it the way Ernie told us to even though most guys don't do it like that. I've been missing Ernie since I moved out of Windsor in 67. It's just sad to think everyone else has to miss him too now.

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