May 6, 2010

NOTHING BUT ERNIE:

Remembering Ernie Harwell: To know the longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers, through the radio or in person, was to love him (King Kaufman, 5/05/10, Salon)

The best three days I ever spent on the clock were the three days I spent in Detroit with Ernie Harwell, the longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers, in 2002, his last year in the broadcast booth. [...]

When he announced that 2002 would be his last season, I wanted to write about him, so I got in touch with him through the Tigers, asking if I could come to Detroit for a few days, hang out with him, shadow him. A day or so later there was a voicemail message. That incredible voice was right on my phone! I saved it for as long as I could. I wish I still had it:

"King, this is Ernie Harwell from Detroit. I don't know that there's much to write about me, but sure, come on up."

I had planned to write about a fundamental shift in the way people follow baseball, about how Harwell was one of the last of the old radio men who were identified with a team as much as any player, often more than any player. Now, with most games on TV, far more games on national TV, larger squads of announcers and the Internet providing more baseball information than any one person could ever absorb, fans weren't dependent on that one broadcaster to serve as the conduit to their team.

Yes. Well, it seemed interesting in my head. A little of that stuff made it into the piece, but after about 10 minutes with Ernie Harwell, I knew that my story couldn't be about anything but Ernie Harwell.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 6, 2010 6:12 AM
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