“I have a problem and I hope you’ll understand and bear with me. One of the finest men we have ever met, and a great broadcaster — he’s in the Hall of Fame — Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Tigers for so many years, who started with the Dodgers broadcasting in 1948, passed away today. The strike two pitch is outside, ball one. But there’s a great story about Ernie . . .” — Vin Scully.
In a recent series of interview questions with various children’s book authors who had written baseball-themed books, Doret Canton (The Happy Nappy Bookseller) asked about our favorite baseball announcers. It was an impossible question, really, because we couldn’t possibly make a fair and informed judgment. Most guys we never hear, or only rarely. The voices we love tend to talk about the team we love; we grow attached to those voices.
In this clip below, the great Vin Scully tells a terrific story about another legendary announcer, Ernie Harwell, who recently passed away at the age of 92. It’s worth a listen. And worth noting, too, how effortlessly Scully tells his story without missing a beat on the play-by-play. A true master.
These days, for my money the most consistently excellent, insightful, and entertaining baseball writer is Joe Posnanski. He wrote one of my favorite baseball books, The Soul of Baseball, about Buck O’Neil, which I discussed here in a list of “My Ten All-Time Favorite Baseball Books.” If you’ve got a minute, check out Joe’s lovely tribute to Ernie Harwell. Here’s one little sliver from that wonderful essay:
Of course, everyone who ever listened to Ernie Harwell called him a friend. “It isn’t me that people love,” he said to me once, “It’s baseball.” But, of course, it wasn’t true. People loved him.
NOTE: MLB took down the video link of Scully on Harwell, so here’s a nice tribute to Harwell instead.