A Detroit legend has died. The man millions grew up listening to on the radio or at the ballpark as the voice of the Detroit Tigers lost his nearly yearlong battle with cancer yesterday. We had all been told last year that he might not make it to see Opening Day 2010. Still, it was too sudden, too soon.
Everyone, it seems, has their own favorite Harwell story or anecdote—about how, when they met him in person, he was so gracious and giving of his time or how he lulled them to sleep at night via transistor radio under covers when it was supposed to be “lights out.” The Free Press today celebrates his life as do countless others, including his many lifelong talents beyond the broadcast booth, including his successes as a songwriter, inventor and writer.
For anyone with the good fortune to know him, work with him or admire him from afar, it was always obvious that Ernie Harwell embraced and lived life to the fullest, with no regrets. Even in his final year and with his grim diagnosis, he was forever optimistic—embracing what was to come, seeing it as the next step in his journey. At an emotional farewell last year at Comerica Park, he communicated exactly that, as well as his great appreciation of the fans. The love affair, it seems, went both ways.
So after more than 60 years of marriage, more than 50 years in broadcasting and more than 40 years as the voice of the Tigers, we join legions in a fond and emotional farewell to Ernie Harwell and wish his family the best in this difficult time.
If you’re looking for more Harwell, The Detroit News put together a fantastic video tribute featuring a who’s-who of Detroit radio broadcasters and icons, including Al Kaline, Mario Impemba, Dan Dickerson, Alan Trammell and Bob Wojnowski.