Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Loooongg Gone! -- But Not Forgotten
Yesterday long-time Detroit Tigers radio broadcaster Ernie Harwell was taken home to his Lord at the age of 92. (See ESPN's video story of his life here.) The Georgia native called games for the Tigers for over 40 years and was truly for me, as for countless other Michiganders, the voice of summer. One of my earliest memories was sitting on a stool in our garage on summer nights (probably 1984 or '85) while my dad went about his tasks--changing motor oil, mowing the lawn, building us a swingset. Yet no matter what he was doing, the garage radio was tuned squarely to 790 AM WSGW, with Harwell's rich, warm Southern voice calling the play-by-play. Phrases such as "He stood there like a house by the side of the road" (when a batter struck out looking), "It's loooongg gone!" (home runs), and "There's a souvenir for a young lady from Ypsilanti" (he would choose some random Michigan town when a foul ball was hit into the stands at Tiger Stadium or Comerica Park). But what I think I enjoyed the most about his broadcasts was the fact that he often kept silent and allowed the mic pick up the sounds of the ballpark--the crack of the bat, the hot dog vendors, the sound of Tiger Stadium's organ. It was a little taste of being at the game.
As far as I know, Harwell was a believer in the Lord Jesus; at least he often made mention of blessings given by his "good Lord" and spoke with peace at announcing his own diagnosis with inoperable cancer in 2009.
Ernie, we'll miss you. Thanks for all the wonderful memories.