Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Miss Ernie Harwell

Detroit Tigers fans have had a nice treat the past two Tigers broadcasts on Fox Sports Detroit, as with Rod Allen back home for his son's graduation, Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell has filled in as color analyst and he's shown despite the years away from the game he still hasn't missed a beat. No disrespect intended to Rod Allen, who I happen to think has really improved over the years as a broadcaster, and can be both funny and educational (he does a great job of breaking down and explaining the little things which you may miss if you are a casual viewer), but I've missed Ernie Harwell and it has been great having him back in the booth.

Like generatios of Tigers fans, I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell call baseball games on WJR and later on PASS Sports and the Detroit Tigers television networks. I know it's a cliche to say that you could listen to somebody read the phonebook, but with Ernie, it would actually be entertaining. I feel really lucky that we were able to have such a world class broadcaster in Detroit for so many years. Watching Friday night's game against Cleveland (I missed Ernie's Thursday afternoon broadcast because I was at work), it brought me back to the days of Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson and the Tigers of my youth, like Cecil Fielder, Travis Fryman, and Mickey Tettleton (Yeah, it's not Kaline and Horton, but it was what I had). When I would listen to Harwell on the radio and watch George Kell and Al Kaline do the games on TV. Nowadays it's common to have a player do color commentary, but not very often do you see a player be a great play-by-play man, but George Kell was.

Ernie was classic Ernie this week. Still had an amazing encyclopedic knowledge of baseball at his fingertips, still full of great stories about the glory days of baseball. The Tigers split the two games Ernie broadcast (a 12-0 thumping of the Angels and a tough loss last night to Cleveland) but they were an education in broadcasting. It's too bad this afternoon's national FOX broadcast of the Tigers-Cleveland game won't feature Ernie. With the two top teams in the Central going head-to-head, with two of their top pitchers (Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia) on the mound, it should be a barnburner. And somewhere, Ernie Harwell will be watching, rooting the Tigers on to victory.

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