Who wouldn’t choose Ernie Harwell? – SCN Encourager 4/11/2014
This question confounds me.
Of course, I was confounded by yesterday’s response to the Encourager.
I never thought so many of us would admit to staying connected to our phones and tablets while in the bathroom. (We must enjoy leaping up to say, “Hey! I do this, too!”)
He was the astute and beloved Hall of Fame baseball play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Tigers for 42 years.
He died in 2010 and you should read this ESPN tribute to appreciate (or to cherish the memory of) all that he meant to baseball and generations of Tiger fans.
As I grew up in Flint, I can’t say that I ever officially “chose” Ernie, in the sense that I “followed” him, “liked” him, or selected him over some other game announcer.
He was the radio voice of my favorite baseball team and that was that.
He brought the Tigers to me for 42 years, and like every lifelong friend, he was always there.
I may have learned baseball skills from my dad and high school coach, but I learned about the richness of the game from Ernie. He was entertaining, kind-hearted, and I looked forward to his play-by-play like a warm and comfortable hug.
Wikipedia presents this list of his classic baseball “calls.”
- “That one is long gone!” (His trademark home run call, with the emphasis on “long”)
- “He stood there like the house by the side of the road, and watched it go by.” (After a called third strike.)
- “Called out for excessive window shopping.” (Also after a called strikeout.)
- “It’s two for the price of one!” (After a double play.)
- “A fan from [insert a Michigan city] will be taking that ball home today.” (When a fan would catch a foul ball.)
Here’s a short YouTube video where you can hear Ernie once again make these memorable calls.
They’re memorable calls alright, and will likely spark many fond memories.
I thought about Ernie while I was shaving the other morning (aka not really using the bathroom) and listening to “Mike and Mike” on ESPN sports talk radio.
The Mikes were discussing a new dilemma facing TV network executives.
Apparently, given today’s technology, there is a growing demand among sports fans who want to watch sports on TV and have the option of choosing their own set of preferred game announcers.
Why should they have to listen to the announcers the network has put on the air?
TV viewing sports fans today want what they want when they want it. And if the technology exists to provide it, what’s the big deal? (Sound familiar to you?)
I’m glad Ernie and I never had to have our relationship tested in this way.
Back when I was a teenager, I probably would’ve chosen the baseball equivalent of Howard Stern… and I would’ve missed out on growing up with someone truly special.
Choice isn’t always the holy grail.
Sometimes the combination of consistency + familiarity + a long time works wonders, too.
But this said, I must confess that I always look forward to listening to the Tigers’ tandem of Dan Dickerson and Jim Price when “play ball” is called.
I may have tried to come off as philosophical and nostalgic today (and you were very kind to bear with me this far) — but I’m a Detroit “homer” at heart!
That’s the only choice I need.
Enjoy your day and your weekend.
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