Ernie Harwell – RIP – A Legend Is Silenced

Posted: May 10, 2010 by The Mark in Baseball
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last week, baseball broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell passed away from cancer at the age of 92.  We’re in an age where baseball on the radio isn’t as important as it used to be and that’s a shame.  Baseball works on the radio better than any other sport.

I grew up in Michigan as a big fan of the Detroit Tigers and I was lucky enough to be able to listen to Ernie Harwell.  I was treated to so many great stories spun by Harwell.  I preferred listening to the games on the radio than hearing the television broadcasters.  We had some pretty good television guys too but George Kell and Al Kaline couldn’t hold a candle to Ernie.  I would sometimes put the game on TV with the sound off and listen to Harwell call the game.

The best ever!

Ernie Harwell knew the game.  He knew the history of the game.  He knew the characters of the game.  He was real, genuine, authentic.  Calling baseball games wasn’t his job, it was his life.

So much of baseball broadcasts today, whether on TV or radio, are guys talking the game to death.  Harwell knew when to talk, when to shut up and never felt the need to explain everything.  He didn’t talk down to us like Tim McCarver does.  McCarver acts as if we know nothing about the game and he’s there to enlighten us.  Don’t get me started on Joe Buck and his superiority complex.

I'm better than you

There are still some legendary voices of baseball left but eventually we’ll be left with the constant chatter, spewing of stats and name dropping of today’s current crop of announcers.  If you get a chance, try to listen to a game called by Vin Scully (Dodgers), Jon Miller (Giants), Bob Uecker (Brewers) and Marty Brennaman (Reds).  You won’t be disappointed.

Ernie Harwell was the voice of Tiger baseball but I don’t ever remember him openly rooting for them.  He never said “we” when mentioning the Tigers.  Sure, there was a touch of excitement when Kirk Gibson would hit a home run but it wasn’t that much more than when Reggie Jackson would hit one.  I don’t regret switching allegiances to the White Sox but their broadcasters get under my skin sometimes.  Ed Farmer is fun to listen to but he can be too much of a homer.  Luckily, I’m not a Cub fan because listening to Ron Santo absolutely drives me nuts.

Hot summer nights, a lawn chair in the backyard, a cold drink and listening to Tiger baseball on the radio.  That was America.  That was my youth and my twenties.  If you’re not too busy with your daily life, take a moment and listen to your favorite team on the radio.  You’ll thank me.  If we stop listening to games on the radio then the terrorists have won.

  1. sittingpugs says:

    Baseball works on the radio better than any other sport.

    I agree.

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