Baseball lost one of its great voices of yore yesterday when Ernie Harwell lost a year-long battle with cancer. The longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers, who was once involved in a trade, sat down with Bob Costas last year for a lengthy interview on the MLB Network. As part of their tribute to Harwell, MLB Network will be re-airing the interview today (Wednesday, May 6, 2010) at 4:00 PM ET/3:00 PM CT.
A Legend Lost: Legendary Hall of Fame Detroit baseball announcer Ernie Harwell is interviewed before the game Kansas City Royals vs Detroit Tigers Opening Day at Comerica Park on March 31 2008.
Here is the full press release that the MLB Network put out last fall for the interview that aired on Studio 42 with Bob Costas.
MLB NETWORK’S BOB COSTAS INTERVIEWS BASEBALL BROADCASTING GREAT ERNIE HARWELL ON NOVEMBER 17
Studio 42 with Bob Costas episode to discuss Harwell’s 55-year career and his battle with cancer
November 12, 2009 – MLB Network’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas will debut an interview with longtime Detroit Tigers play-by-play announcer and Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell on Tuesday, November 17 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Throughout the interview, Harwell, 91, discusses his 55-year career in broadcasting with the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers, as well as the incurable cancer he was diagnosed with in September 2009. At the interview’s close, Harwell recites the speech he gave upon being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on August 2, 1981. A preview of the interview, which will re-air on November 17 at 10:00 p.m. ET, can be seen here.
Prior to the interview, MLB Network will air Hot Stove, its live studio show in the offseason with updates and analysis of the moves all 30 clubs are making and planning in preparation for the upcoming season, at 6:00 p.m. ET and 7:00 p.m. ET/PT. Following the interview, MLB Network will re-air Studio 42 with Bob Costas featuring Major League Baseball umpires Don Denkinger, Bruce Froemming and Steve Palermo at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Highlights from the interview with Harwell include:
ON HIS HEALTH
This will be my last World Series, I think. Back in July, the doctors gave me six months to live, give or take a few months. I’m hoping to reach my birthday on January 25 but I’m pretty sure I won’t make the baseball season. But you never know as the Lord works wonders.
I’m not overwhelmed by the circumstances. One of the doctors said, “If you were my father, I’d say, don’t do anything, just relax and wait for the inevitable.” But I had great peace about that and closure to it and I knew God was in charge and whatever happens, happens for the best. I really have a lot of serenity and great support from my wife family and friends. It’s been so far a fairly easy task to accept it.
On Returning to Comerica Park on September 16
That was a great event for me. First of all, I addressed the team, which was a real honor. Jim Leyland had the whole team around. And after a couple innings, they sent me out there with a microphone and I said a few words of farewell. It was very heartwarming for me to see the way people felt about me.
The old voice hasn’t changed that much in 50 years and I thank mainly the genes, the good health the Lord gave me, and the fact I enjoyed the job so much. I never looked at it as work. It was something I got great pleasure out of; Getting to know the people in baseball, traveling with them, and being a part of that great Major League Baseball fraternity.
ON SUPPORT FROM FANS
I don’t think there’s any reason for this response except that I was the Tiger announcer. I showed up and did the best I could. I tried to be myself and my whole philosophy was the game was the main thing and don’t ever interfere with the game. People tune in to what the Tigers are doing. No matter whose doing the game, they’re going to tune in.
ON BEING A LOCAL MLB ANNOUNCER
I do feel like those people out there were my friends and I hope I was their friend. It is a unique association that you have with your listener. I really appreciate the fact that they’ve taken interest in me. I don’t know that I deserve that. All I tried to do was be myself. I wanted to broadcast the game that I thought I’d like to hear as a listener. I tried to give the score as often as I could. I let the play take over and fill in with anecdotes or historical information that maybe nobody else came up with. There were going to be some people who like you and some who don’t like you and you have to accept that when you start out.
On moving from the segregated South to Brooklyn in 1948
It was a little strange seeing a black man play against white competition. I accepted it and Jackie Robinson became a very good friend of mine. I played cards with him, played golf with him, rode the train with him. It’s the most exciting and most eventful thing that’s happened in sports history, the breaking of the color line by Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey.
On leaving Baltimore IN 1960 and taking THE JOB WITH THE DETROIT TIGERS
So I made the jump and it was probably the best move I ever made because the people in Michigan have really been super. They’re great fans, it’s an original franchise, and they have a great passion for baseball.