R.I.P. Ernie Harwell
Ernie Harwell passed away late last night at the age of 92. He is remembered well around the web, with particularly good entries from Joe Posnanski, Rob Neyer, and Lee Panas. I can’t say that I have a personal Ernie Harwell story, but I would like to talk a little about the man in general.
I am not a Tigers fan, and I did not grow up listening to Harwell. In fact, he was always the announcer of the opposition. Nonetheless, great announcers are like great ballplayers: They are worthy of respect whether you support your team or not. Harwell brought a level of beauty and poetry to the game that few other announcers ever approached. With Harwell’s passing, we are nearing the last gasp of an earlier era. Jack Buck (my personal favorite) passed away in 2002, Mel Allen in 1996, Red Barber in 1992. With Harwell gone, only Vin Scully remains. Though this is the way the world always works, it is still sad to watch it happen.
Second, Harwell is an aspirational figure. It would be nice to be remembered as warmly as Harwell has been when my final days come. He is constantly described as a model of grace, warmth, and generosity. I have told people before that I think fatherhood exists on a continuum from To Kill a Mockingbird (“Stand up. Your father’s passing.) to Field of Dreams (Dad, can we have a catch?). As a father of 3, I often think in such terms. In the broader world, the remembrance of Ernie Harwell anchors that continuum, a man remember with unstinting love and respect. If you have to go, that’s the way to do it.
RIP Ernie Harwell.