I suppose I could have looked for one of the memorable Tiger moments to commemorate the passing of Ernie Harwell tonight; but growing up as a Tigers fan in the 70’s it wasn’t so much about having awe-inspiring, wonderful moments that Ernie Harwell narrated.
Ernie Harwell was a part of my life, for 6 months out of the year, every single night. We don’t remember our childhood friends so much for the momentous occasions, sometimes it’s just the little things that stand out.
For me, Ernie Harwell was like a friend, someone who helped the world go ’round every day for a young kid who loved Baseball, each season was a story told in small doses every night, and it was Ernie Harwell that told the story.
It was a different time; you didn’t have new people show up in the booth every couple of years, and Ernie Harwell was the Tigers announcer for my entire childhood. Baseball was a part of childhood whether the Tigers were good or awful and listening to it on the radio was how it was done. There wasn’t portable media, there weren’t portable games or TV or movies or internet; there was only portable radio.
Baseball was spring, when Ernie Harwell made his appearance in my life each year it was time to go outside again; to enjoy the adventures of youth at whatever friend’s house playing baseball, or riding a bike in the woods; or going to Little League practice. Every night, Ernie Harwell was there too. He went wherever I did.
It’s one of those hidden, magical parts of life that you can never quite put a finger on; the way maybe that Walter Cronkite was just there in the 60’s to do the news; Baseball was a world, it was part of what made life good for a kid, and Ernie Harwell was the voice that created that world, every night.
There may have been more exciting announcers, being fortunate enough to grow up in Michigan I was also privileged enough to listen to Bob Ufer do University of Michigan broadcasts in the fall; but there is no one on earth I would have picked to listen to every single night growing up, before Ernie Harwell.
He was a blessing in a young life, and I’m sure many others know exactly how I feel tonight. There was a time when your Baseball announcer was always part of your life in a very meaningful way; Ernie Harwell was my Baseball announcer.
Rest in Peace