I never heard Ernie Harwell call a whole baseball game on the radio, and from all I can tell I am the poorer for that.
The long-time Detroit Tigers play-by-play man passed away last week, in his 90s and suffering from bile duct cancer. Google him and you’ll find pages of eloquent tributes to the man, to what he meant to Detroit, and to what he meant to generations of Tiger fans.
As a baseball fan, and a broadcaster, I’ve admired the great radio voices of the game’s past—Red Barber, Mel Allen—through what was written about them and from what brief recordings I’ve heard. A few of those great voices did some television, and that’s how I got more familiar with the likes of Jack Buck and Jon Miller. And, of course, Vin Scully.
Scully is from the Bronx, so I have a soft spot. When Ernie Harwell moved to the Giants in 1950 it was young Vin Scully who took his seat in the Brooklyn radio booth. Despite his belonging to that hated team, I’ve admired Scully’s easy, relaxed call of a game, how he could bring the sequence of events of a game to life and tell another story, and never let one get in the way of the other.
Here’s the proof: today I found a transcript of Scully’s call the night Harwell passed away; imagine a little crowd noise in the background…I’ll wait.
Now…imagine how it would go if your team’s radio guy tried to do that.