Tigers On Top

It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame!
May 25, 2007, 7:57 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The sun shone down upon the gorgeous Comerica Park grass. The dulcet tones of Ernie Harwell’s voice issued soothingly from the broadcast booth. And the Tigers came through with a right drubbing, thrashing the Angels 12-0 in Jeremy Bonderman’s triumph over that nasty blister.

At first it seemed like the Angels would be the ones to draw first blood, loading the bases with no outs in the top of the first. But Bondo snuffed the threat with a tailor-made 1-2-3 double play and a flyout, and then his mates got down to business.

Magglio Ordonez was four for four. Carlos Guillen cracked two homers for five RBI. Sheffield homered again. Bondo went eight scoreless innings for his third win.

Really, could it have been any better?

It’s tempting to say today was just like old times, what with the return of Harwell, but that’s exactly what it wasn’t. Well, not if old times mean to you what they mean to me–my early days as a Tigers fan, those twelve losing years.

I have vivid, painful memories of Ernie Harwell’s final broadcast in 2002. I knew we didn’t have a great team, I knew the season had been lost since early summer, but I still hoped for a miracle against the Blue Jays on that last day. Despite a valiant effort from my boy Mike Maroth, the offense could muster nothing against Toronto, and Harwell’s final game ended up being a 2-0 loss.

So I was pretty darn gleeful that the 2007 version of the Tigers could come through for him. All our issues with the bullpen seem small when you think about what we had to go through in, oh, say 2003. Ernie deserved a day like this.

And what do you know, he’ll be back for tomorrow for the first game against the Indians! Maybe the Tigers will decide that he’s a good luck charm and lure him out of retirement. I like the Tigers’ broadcast team, both radio and TV (I know a lot of people don’t) but no one compares to Ernie Harwell. His delivery is so smooth, his stories so far-ranging and wonderful … I could listen to Ernie broadcast all day.

Some favorite Ernie-isms:

“He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched that one go by!” (After an opposing batter strikes out looking; my dad and I will yell this at any game we attend, at every opportunity.)

“That one is loooooooonnnnng gone!” (After a home run)

“And that foul ball was caught by a fan from Saginaw!” (Or Ann Arbor, or Sterling Heights, or Dearborn …)

“He’s out for excessive window shopping.” (After a called strikeout)

And my very best favorite, the tagline of my life: “Tygs on top!”

Anyone who has never listened to Ernie broadcast a game should tune in tomorrow. I got Gameday Audio the first year it was available just to be able to hear him call the Tigers games–in the Bay Area, I couldn’t exactly get him on the radio. No matter what I was doing, even if I was supposed to be doing homework, the sound of his voice would be in the background.

In my junior year of high school, I was even able to talk to him. I was doing a project on Jackie Robinson, and knew that Ernie was a broadcaster with the Dodgers and Giants during those years. Not expecting a reply, I sent Ernie a letter asking to interview him for the project. Imagine my surprise when a handwritten note arrived bearing the signature of Ernie Harwell and his home phone number! That was probably my first real foray into journalism, taking copious notes next to the phone as that familiar voice eloquently answered each halting question. A Hall of Fame broadcaster took the time to answer the questions of a sixteen-year-old kid. Now that’s a class act.


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