Ernie Harwell passed away today after a year long battle with cancer. Ernie was the voice of Tigers baseball. He was the commentator to my summer and a nighttime companion to my youth.
When I was in 4th grade, I was given an AM radio. I never listened to much music on it, but I did listen to Tigers games at night. Huddled under the covers of my bed I would tune the radio to ear the familiar twang of Harwell's voice.
Ernie got as excited for a good play as the fans did. Conversely, don't recall him ever saying anything bad about the home team. In life, he was the same way. Always a kind word; never speaking ill of anyone.
Ernie was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor early last summer. He made a point of attending a Tigers game and speaking to the fans while he was still able. Ernie thanked the fans for the kindness they had showed him over the years. The ovation that Harwell received was long and genuine. I think it even made him a bit uncomfortable.
I was lucky enough to meet Ernie in the 90s. I babbled something incoherently about my AM radio and listening to him. I'm certain it was story told by hundreds of other kids, now grown men, over a lifetime.
Thank you, Ernie. Thank you for a childhood of memories. Rest in peace.