novakMaybe it is the fact that I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell call the Detroit Tigers games, but in my mind there was no one better at it than him.

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Scott Novak: In my mind, there was no one better than Harwell

Published 9:07am Friday, September 18, 2009

The Hall of Fame broadcaster was honored by the Tigers earlier this week and he gave a moving speech, which of course he kept short and simple.

Perhaps that is why I loved to listen to Harwell call a baseball game.

He kept it simple and he told the truth.

Both things earned him a spot not only in the Hall of Fame, but in the hearts of all of his listeners and it earned him the respect of baseball players everywhere.

Harwell is an institution. He is the last of his breed. There are very few broadcasters today that can hold a candle to him or those who have passed away before him.

Harwell spent 55 years of his life announcing games. Of those 55 years, 42 of them were spent with the Detroit Tigers.

Now at 91 years of age, Harwell is in the fight of his life.

It was announced recently that he has incurable cancer.

In a recent radio interview I heard, Harwell said that there is always hope.

I can’t say that those words surprised me because that’s part of what made him a great broadcaster – the ability to see beyond the game and what it means to not only be a great athlete, but a great human being.

Ernie Harwell is no doubt one of  the greatest broadcasters of all time. But what I love about him and what many others love about him is that he is even a better person.

I had the chance to meet and speak with Harwell on more than one occassion when I used to go to the Detroit Tigers caravan tours that would stop in either Grand Rapids or Kalamazooo each winter.

He was a delightful man who treated you with respect and it was almost as if he knew you.
That’s one of the things I admired most about Harwell. He had the ability to make you feel at ease, whether he knew you or not.

That came through on his broadcasts as well. He made you feel a part of the game even if you were hundreds of miles away.

In his address to the crowd the other night, I got a bit chocked up when he said that he has had a great journey and the best part of it was that it would end in Michigan.

He loves this state and he loves the fans of  the Detroit Tigers.

There is just one thing I would like to know, however, about Harwell. How in the heck did he know where everyone was from who caught a foul ball at the game?

Scott Novak is sports editor of Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com or by phone at 687-7702.  Follow me on my daily blog: www.leaderpub-sports.blogspot.com

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