May 5, 2010

FRIEND TO MAN:

ERNIE HARWELL | 1918-2010: Hall of Fame announcer dead at 92 (JOHN LOWE, 5/04/10, Detroit FREE PRESS)

Harwell had one of the longest runs by a broadcaster with one major league club, calling Tigers games for 42 seasons. For the first 32 of those seasons, he made and cemented his legacy by doing play-by-play on the radio. His Southern voice — rich and authoritative but not overbearing — became as distinctive to Michigan listeners as baseball itself.

Unlike some announcers in recent decades, Harwell didn’t litter his broadcasts with shouting, excessive talking or all-knowing pronouncements about players and managers. Listening to him was as pleasant as being at Tiger Stadium in the summertime. As he fell silent between pitches, listeners got to hear the sounds of the ballpark — the crowd’s buzz, the vendor’s cry — and absorb the rhythm of the game. Harwell thus became an ideal companion for a listener anywhere: the couch, the yard, the car or the boat.

“He’s a master craftsman,” former Tigers broadcaster Josh Lewin, now with the Texas Rangers, said in 2002. “He’s always kept it simple, which I think is part of his charm and staying power.”

In 2005, author and historian Curt Smith ranked Harwell as the third-greatest baseball announcer ever, only placing him behind Dodgers legend Vin Scully and Yankees stalwart Mel Allen. Just behind Harwell were St. Louis’ Jack Buck and New York’s Red Barber. Smith, a student of baseball broadcasting, had 10 criteria for his rankings, ranging from longevity and acclaim to voice and personality.


RIP Ernie Harwell (Joe Posnanski, 5/04/10)
In this life, you only get to meet so many beautiful people. I’ve been lucky. I knew Buck O’Neil. And I knew Ernie Harwell. This is the story I wrote about Ernie last September for Sports Illustrated. You know one of Ernie’s favorite poems was Sam Walter Foss’ “The House by the Side of the Road.” He would sometimes use a line or two during his broadcasts.

The key line in the poem: “Let me live in my house by the side of the road/and be a friend to man,”

For 92 years, William Earnest Harwell was a friend to man. Rest in peace Ernie.

MORE:
-TRIBUTE: Ernie Harwell Remembered (MLB.com)
Celebrating Ernie Harwell: Memories, photos and audio of the legendary Tigers broadcaster, who died of cancer May 4. (May 5, 2010, Detroit Free Press)
-TRIBUTE: to Ernie Harwell (Deroit Free Press)
-TRIBUTE: Ernie Harwell had great optimism, humor (DREW SHARP, 5/05/10, FREE PRESS)
-TRIBUTE: Mr. Harwell, a humble, spiritual man (ROCHELLE RILEY, 5/05/10, FREE PRESS)

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 5, 2010 5:26 AM
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