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Tag:Ernie Harwell
Posted on: December 3, 2010 2:10 pm
 

Love Letters: Readers on broadcasters

Few people get into the hearts of baseball fans the way broadcasters do. I wrote a Thanksgiving column about this, and primarily about the passing of legends Dave Niehaus (Seattle), Harry Kalas (Philadelphia) and Ernie Harwell (Detroit), and about the heart scare with Bob Uecker (Milwaukee), and the reaction follows.

Before we get to that, though, Cubs play-by-play man Pat Hughes, as a labor of love, has spent his past five offseasons producing CD audio tributes to several legendary broadcasters. The latest CD features Niehaus. Others available feature Uecker, Kalas, Marty Brennaman, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Bob Prince and Red Barber. They're great items, and if you're interested, you can get more information here.

And now, on the sad day that we learned of Ron Santo's passing, here are a few readers telling their own tales following Giving thanks for the great voices in baseball. ...

FROM: Jeremy D.

Scott,

Great article, especially this time not only for the giving of thanks, but [for writing this while next season] is still a ways away. I am 33 and have been a Phillies fan for most of those years. Harry, as we call him around here in south-central PA, still holds the most memorable call in my many years as an avid sports fan: Mike Schmidt's 500th home run. When he passed away last spring, I, as many others were, was devastated. It was like losing a close, long-time friend. I have spent more time listening to Harry than I've spent listening to many of the friends and relatives I know personally. I still love to hear Vin Scully call a game, as well as Jon Miller on the radio, and Marty Brenneman. Some of the newer guys have promise, but Scully's voice flat-out IS summer. Thanks again for the pleasant cold-November-day read.

One more great thing about these broadcasters that come into our lives: Unlike certain relatives, they don't show up uninvited for the holidays!

FROM:
Jim W.

Thank you for that great story on the voices of summer. I moved to Seattle in 1993 and I will always remember Edgar's double and Griffey scoring from first to beat the Yankees in the 1995 Divisional Series. It was the year after the strike, and Dave's call is the reason I love baseball again.

The great ones can do that for us, can't they?

FROM: Rob

Great article! XM radio is the best thing to happen to baseball and the MLB app is great with the ability to hear both radio feeds.

Love XM. What a perk it is to be able to sit on my back patio on a Saturday in the summer, Cheez-Its within reach, clicking around the satellite radio dial listening to broadcasts from each city.

FROM:
Keith B.

I think you are right on with your column about the great baseball announcers. I became a big fan in the summer of 1962 listening to Harry Caray, Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell. I lived in Rapid City, SD. After dark I could pick up the various stations that carried MLB games. Sometimes it was not very clear but I could hear enough to know what was going on. My great grandfather & I would listen to Vin Scully on KFI out of Los Angeles. Happy Thanksgiving.

South Dakota, Michigan (where I'm from) ... one great thing about the Midwest is the flatlands allow strong radio signals to carry unimpeded for hundreds of miles. I could listen to the Tigers, Reds, Indians, White Sox, Cubs. ...

FROM:
Dan L.

Dear Scott,

As a fellow broadcaster and Michigander, I was blessed as well to grow up listening to the National Treasure that was Ernie Harwell. I was lucky enough to do a 20-minute interview with him on my radio show a couple years ago and felt like I had lived some of the moments that Ernie described to me from an era that I was not even alive during. He just helped make you feel part of something special, and through the sharing of his experiences throughout his amazing career, I kept thinking to myself just how lucky we are to have had Ernie be a part of our lives and us a part of his. I think CBS is very lucky to have you writing for them and I would love to stay in touch and have you on my show in the future. Keep up the great work!

Very kind. Thanks.

Posted on: May 11, 2010 12:52 am
 

The Rays and the art of the perfect game

Perfect games follow the Tampa Bay Rays around the way stray dogs hang near the meat market.

Rays' outfielder Gabe Kapler on Sunday became the only man in baseball history to bat in the ninth inning twice with his team facing a perfect game.

Kapler bounced to shortstop to end Dallas Braden's grab at history in Oakland on Sunday.

And in Chicago last July, he was Mark Buehrle's first out in the ninth inning.

You might recall that one: Kapler was the guy who smoked the fly ball to the wall that Chicago outfielder DeWayne Wise majestically chased down in a highlight reel play for the ages.

"And if you want to take it one step further. ..." Kapler said Monday in Anaheim as the Rays prepared to open a series with the Angels.

Yes, if you want to do that, Kapler now has had three brushes with perfect games in three years: In 2008, San Diego's Chris Young spun a perfect game for 7 2/3 innings on Sept. 7 in Milwaukee when Kapler, then a Brewers outfielder, broke it up by smashing a home run.

Understandably so, Kapler says he felt "very connected to" Buehrle's moment, given how close he came to breaking up and Wise's spectacular play.

As for Braden's perfecto on Sunday, Kapler said, "I think in the order of the universe, there are reasons why it would have been nice for us to break it up. But after the game, I read about how Braden's mom had died of cancer, and it was poetic [to have it happen on Mother's Day]. It was his day. He needed to make pitches, and he made them."

Meantime, Kapler's wild perfect game history isn't all in this crazy Tampa Bay connection.

Manager Joe Maddon?

He's now been involved with three perfect games (plus another no-hitter) -- all on the wrong side.

While his Rays now have been victimized by two perfect games in their past 96 (Braden on Sunday, the White Sox's Mark Buehrle last July 23), Maddon also was the Angels' bullpen coach when Texas' Kenny Rogers was perfect against them back in 1994.

He also was the Angels' interim manager when Minnesota's Eric Milton no-hit them in 1999.

"I'm your guy for a perfect game," Maddon joked. "I'm on the bad side of history once again. Kind of amazing, but it happened."

Wait, there's more: Including the Braden and Buehrle games, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and third-base coach Tom Foley each have been involved with three perfect games.

Unlike with Maddon and Kapler, though, the Rays finally have a winner with Foley and Martinez: Each was on the 1991 Montreal club when Pedro Martinez tossed a perfect game against the Dodgers on July 28, 1991.

The Rays join the Dodgers and Twins as the only three teams to have two perfect games thrown against them.

Likes: Do yourself a favor and watch this absolutely hilarious recent rant by a disgusted Cleveland television guy doing a postgame show. And it was on the Indians' flagship station, no less. ... Terrific analysis encapsulating the mess that is the Kansas City Royals here. ... Classy tribute to the late Ernie Harwell before Monday's Tigers game in Detroit. A sad, sad thing, but the Tigers really deserve credit for the first-class manner in which they've handled everything. ... Really superb Drive-By Truckers show last Thursday at the House of Blues in San Diego. Those guys can play and, boy, do they rock. The new disc, The Big To-Do, is very good. Of course, it's no Decoration Day -- the Truckers set the bar with that (or maybe with Southern Rock Opera) -- but it's good. Love Birthday Boy, Daddy Learned to Fly, Santa Fe and (It's Gonna Be) I Told You So. ...

Dislikes: So, what, this oil is going to continue leaking into the ocean indefinitely? Can we get it fixed anytime soon? Yeah, drill, baby, drill. It's sickening watching what's going on.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"There was that whole weird thing with the horses
"I think they know exactly what happened
"I don't think it needs any explaining
"I'm pretty sure I wasn't your first choice
"I think I was the last one remaining"

-- The Hold Steady, The Weekenders

Posted on: May 4, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2010 9:38 pm
 

Definition of baseball? Ernie Harwell is in there

The world is a little less gracious, a little less gentlemanly tonight. Legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell is gone, probably talking with baseball fans in heaven above in that beautiful, courtly manner of his, and the voice of our game is momentarily silenced and forever changed.

If Michigan summers could talk, they would sound like Ernie Harwell: Relentlessly sunny and optimistic. I wrote those words last September after one of the greatest baseball voices of our time went public with his battle with cancer and, on this sad evening, I can't say it better than that.

I wrote this, too:

I know I'm not alone here: I listened to him on my transistor radio while on our swing set as a kid, on a portable radio in the backyard as the weekend sun shone and the Wiffle balls flew, on the car radio while my father took me to my Little League games. I listened on my alarm radio while falling asleep at night, on my car stereo as the high school years rolled past, on friends' radios as we played basketball on summer nights, ate pizza and laughed.

When the Tigers played out west and I worked early mornings in college, I'd go to bed by 11 and set the alarm clock twice, the first time for around 12:45 a.m. That way, I could listen to the last inning from Anaheim or Oakland and get the score before falling asleep for good. And when I left Michigan and sorely missed those warm summer nights with a wide open future, I listened to Ernie in rental cars when I returned, as good a Visitors' Bureau as any state could ever have.

I wrote several other things that day as well and, for those of you who missed it, here they are.

******

Meantime, as we observe a moment of silence, I'll leave you with Ernie's beautiful "definition of baseball", as he put it, from the end of his Hall of Fame speech in 1981. Those of you who read this blog regularly or semi-regularly know my affinity for picking out a Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day. Well, today, this is it, and it is perfect:

"Baseball is the president tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm. A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout. That’s baseball. And so is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home one of his 714 home runs.

“There’s a man in Mobile who remembers that Honus Wagner hit a triple in Pittsburgh 46 years ago. That’s baseball. So is the scout reporting that a 16-year-old pitcher in Cheyenne is a coming Walter Johnson. Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed. And then becomes a statistic.

“In baseball democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color merely something to distinguish one team’s uniform from another.

“Baseball is a rookie, his experience no bigger than the lump in his throat as he begins fulfillment of his dream. It’s a veteran too, a tired old man of 35 hoping that those aching muscles can pull him through another sweltering August and September. Nicknames are baseball, names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Dazzy.

“Baseball is the cool, clear eyes of Rogers Hornsby. The flashing spikes of Ty Cobb, an over-aged pixie named Rabbit Maranville.

“Baseball is just a game, as simple as a ball and bat, yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion.

“Why the fairy tale of Willie Mays making a brilliant World Series catch, and then dashing off to play stickball in the street with his teenage pals. That’s baseball. So is the husky voice of a doomed Lou Gehrig saying, ‘I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.’

“Baseball is cigar smoke, hot roasted peanuts, The Sporting News, ladies day, ‘Down in front,’ ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ and ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’

“Baseball is a tongue-tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown. This is a game for America. Still a game for America, this baseball! Thank you.”

Rest in peace, Ernie. You were beautiful. And prayers for his family.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 4, 2010 9:54 am
 

Bucs' Alvarez charging hard at third base

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Andy LaRoche feels the locomotive steaming toward him, but what's he going to do? Run?

He will open the season as Pittsburgh's third baseman.

Whether he closes it that way is an entirely different story.

Over there in the wings, Pedro Alvarez, one of the top five prospects in the game, is sharpening his defense, honing his hitting and preparing for a long future as Pittsburgh's third baseman (or, perhaps, first baseman -- Alvarez's bat is by far his most intriguing tool).

"No matter if I play with A-Rod, Pedro or nobody behind me, I have to get the things done that I need to do," LaRoche says. "It's not going to make me work any harder, or work any less.

"That's all I can focus on."

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Alvarez hit .288 with 27 homers, 32 doubles and 95 RBI in 126 games last season between high-Class A and Double-A.

He likely will not break camp with the Pirates and probably won't arrive until June, July or later -- partly because the organization thinks he still needs seasoning, and partly because stashing him in the minors until then will delay the clock on his major league service time and stop him from being eligible for arbitration until after the 2012 season.

"It's easy to get excited about Pedro," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington says. "You see the strength in his bat, and what he did last year. But it's also easy to forget that he hasn't swung the bat above Double-A. Triple-A pitchers are going to teach him some lessons he needs to learn."

So the good people of Indianapolis (locale of Pittsburgh's Triple-A team) are in for a treat early this season. How long he remains there -- and how long LaRoche remains in the lineup -- right now is only a matter of conjecture until what most people think is the most fearsome bat to come out of the draft for Pittsburgh since first-round pick Barry Bonds in 1985 is ready.

"Obviously, he's a great player," says LaRoche, 25, who hit .258 with 12 homers and 64 RBI last season for the Bucs. "All the publicity he gets, it's not just hype. He's the real deal. He's a great hitter and a solid third baseman.

"It would be nice to play on the same field with him one day -- even if he's at third base and I'm at second."

Sunblock Day? If things don't change around here, I'm going to have to remove this category from the blog entirely. Not to keep bitching, but according to the St. Petersburg Times, this is the coldest winter in the Tampa area since the 1950s. According to the newspaper, so far this season, "Tampa and St. Petersburg have had 26 and 28 days respectively that haven't climbed above 60 degrees — the second-highest number in recorded history. And we're only a few days away from the record, which was set in 1958 when St. Petersburg had 31 days below 60 and Tampa had 30." Brrr.

Likes: Love the blue and orange paw print pattern throughout the carpeting in the Tigers' Lakeland clubhouse. ... Pittsburgh's Pirate City, about a mile away from McKechnie Field in Bradenton, is totally first class. The Bucs have done a great job incorporating their history, with photos and nods to men like Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Danny Murtaugh and Roberto Clemente throughout. Love the Clemente quote painted onto the wall above the door through which the Pirates exit to head toward the fields: "I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give." ... If you're on vacation to see the Pirates and just couldn't find a pet-sitter, there's a place just down the very rural street on which Pirate City is located that offers dog obedience training. Lessons are Tuesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Woof. ... Mixon's Fruit Farm also is just down the road from Pirate City, and it's a must-stop for lunch. The fresh orange juice is out of this world. The deli sandwiches are solid, but what's really a must-have is the orange swirl ice cream cone, made with Mixon's fresh orange juice. Mmmmm.

Dislikes: Not that I was ever tempted to watch, but sure am glad I missed The Marriage Ref the other night. Based on the awful reviews and some of what we've seen lately, this painful question needs to be asked: Has Jerry Seinfeld jumped the shark?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

Exhibition games start this week, and in tribute to Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who would open the Tigers' first Grapefruit League broadcast each spring with this poem, I've gotta go with this today:

"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 Solomon

You can listen to Ernie himself recite this verse from the Song of Solomon here, from his Audio Scrapbook (a cool four-disc set that is extremely well done). Just click play and it's the first up in the Harwell tribute video.

 

Posted on: September 4, 2009 2:08 am
 

Ernie Harwell has incurable cancer

I hate to report tough news out of Michigan tonight: Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell has been diagnosed with an incurable tumor in the area of the bile duct. Not only is Harwell, 91, one of the best broadcasters of all time, a treasured voice for the ages, he's also one of the sweetest men you'll ever meet. May he be surrounded by love and strengthened by his fervent faith as he enters this difficult next chapter of his life. 

 
Category: MLB
Posted on: April 7, 2009 12:00 am
 

New year, and Dodgers loaded

It's a miniscule sample size, but the snapshot following game one of 162 for the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they should have the best lineup in the NL West this season and, possibly, as good as there is in the National League.

Against San Diego ace Jake Peavy, the first inning played out perfectly. Leadoff man Rafael Furcal punched a single, and second baseman Orlando Furcal followed with another.

So Peavy was staring at two speedsters aboard, none out and Ramirez at the plate.

"That's what we're hoping for at the top of the lineup," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That they can make the pitchers pitch to Manny.

"Manny didn't get any hits today. But I believe his presence is important."

No kidding. Ramirez didn't do any damage in the inning, popping to center. But two batters later, with two out and Russell Martin at the plate, Furcal and Hudson took off, successfully completing a double steal.

After Martin walked, Loney cracked a two-run single. The Dodgers never came close to trailing after that.

Peavy was impressed, not only with a deep Dodgers lineup in which the six-seven-eight hitters are James Loney, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake, but with the one-two punch of Furcal and Hudson at the top.

"Both can run," Peavy said. "Both are switch-hitters, table-setters, All-Stars. They can run, they can hit-and-run, they can get on base and steal. They can run around the bases, and when you've got Manny up there. ..."

Trouble.

It's a miniscule sample size, but if the Dodgers get some pitching, and if Furcal avoids further back trouble and they stay away from key injuries, then these Dodgers are going to be extremely dangerous.

Likes: Day baseball at this time of year. Nice to watch the Mets-Reds before heading to the park later Monday. And nice to listen to Thom Brennaman and Jeff Brantley on XM radio. I'll tell you, though, when they started talking about Montgomery Inn, it made me wish I was in Cincinnati for opening day this year. Might be the best ribs in America right there. ... Writing out the first lineups of the year on my scoresheets. ... 75 degrees at game-time in San Diego on Monday. ... Spring break. Nice to have my daughter home from school. ... Cruising through the park on my daily run and seeing the rabbits out. Ah, spring. ... My wife's homemade pizza on Saturday night as the NCAA semi-final games were going. I may be one of the more boring guys around, but I'll tell you what: It's still really hard to find a more enjoyable evening than a good ballgame on television at home with pizza.

Dislikes: Longtime New York Times baseball columnist and buddy Jack Curry getting hit by a car while in Philadelphia on Sunday for the Phillies-Braves opener. Thank God he escaped with "only" badly bruised ribs and several scrapes. Get well soon, Jack. ... Ichiro out with an ulcer. ... San Diego's crack media relations gal, Leah Tobin, leaving for a job with the Red Sox. Don't get me wrong, good for Leah and great move for the Red Sox. Personally speaking, I'll miss her. She's good. Congratulations, Leah. ... Michigan State getting clocked in the NCAA title game. And, worse, a lopsided title game.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

With respect and eternal admiration to Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who regularly ushered in the new season in his first spring broadcast each year with this:

"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 Solomon, Solomon 2:11-12.
 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com