Ernie Harwell

There are few people that I can say I truly admire. Sure, I love the vision of Steve Jobs, the charisma (not necessarily the politics) of Barack Obama, and the determination of Michael Jordan. None, however, even approach “hero” status for me, however, because while they excel in one arena of life, I cannot say that I would ever want to be like them in a holistic sense.

Yesterday our world lost one of those
special men that embodied excellence, passion, grace and faith. He was a man of character and integrity, as genuine in private as he was in the spotlight. His voice, arguably the greatest broadcasting voice of all time, served as the summer soundtrack for millions of baseball fans in Michigan and beyond. His stories, enthusiasm, and trademark phrases brought delight to Tiger fans and even those with no interest in sports.

"Let's listen to the bedlam."
"That's two for the price of one."
"He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched that one go by."

"He was guilty of excessive window shopping."
"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
"Here comes Herndon, he's got it! And the Tigers are the champions of 1984!"
"The Tigers need some instant runs."
"And a man from Saline caught that ball."
"Lonnnng gone."
"That's a called strike; Mr. Denkinger said so."
"The Tigers are kicking up their heels."

Leadership is influence.
Ernie Harwell was a fantastic leader. “Baseball announcer” is not the title or position one normally thinks of when the world “leader” is used, yet his life influenced so many. If there was ever a position of “Mr. Michigan,” Ernie would probably be the unanimous winner. His personal life inspired countless people before and during his battle with cancer, confident that he would soon be safely in the arms of the Savior that gave His life for him.

I have missed Ernie Harwell since his fond farewell on the radio in 2002, and now I will miss him even more knowing that his days on this earth have come to an end. Although I never personally met him, my grandpa knew him. They attended church together for many years and grandpa even got an autographed ball from Ernie for me, something I will always treasure as a reminder of a truly remarkable man.

I look forward to the day when I will finally get to meet him.