Thursday, September 17, 2009
Ernie Harwell: My Tribute
There are certain things in life that can instantly put me in a good mood. Reading the Bible, the smell of a pine Christmas tree, or anything Disney related will quickly turn a sour mood for me. The voice of Ernie Harwell also does the trick. However it was deep sadness I felt when I learned that Harwell, who was the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 40 years, was recently diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
When I hear Harwell's voice I instantly become 11 years old again. It's Saturday afternoon circa 1977, my dad is fixing the brakes on the car and Harwell's southern drawl is calling the Tigers play-by-play on the transistor radio blaring from the garage. I would have both my baseball glove and my father's pleading with him to take a break so we can play catch for just a few minutes. Aahhh!! I loved my childhood and for many 30+ yr old native Detroiters Ernie Harwell was an integral part.
More than just being the Voice of the Tigers, my respect for him extends beyond baseball. At 91, he is still happily married to the wife of his youth, Lulu Harwell and as a devout Christian believer he has been heavily involved with Baseball Chapel which serves as an evangelistic organization for professional baseball players.
In Colorado I would often have coffee with a dear friend named Bob who was a fellow Christian and lover of baseball. I confessed to him one of my dreams was to be in heaven one day playing at Heaven's Field of Dreams with some of my baseball heroes. Farmhouses and cornfields would surround, kids would be playing to the side, hotdogs would be grilling on the Bar-B-Qs and a young Ernie Harwell would be calling the play by play. Just the thought of it makes my eyes well up...
Yesterday the Detroit Tigers had Ernie return to Tiger Stadium (I still can't call it Comerica Park) for possibly the last time so fans and players alike could show their gratitude and say good-bye. The video of the event moved me to tears.
I'll be praying for you Ernie. You and you precious family as you prepare for your final journey home. God Bless you...and thank you for being part of my life!