Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell passed away Tuesday around 7pm in his apartment in Detroit after months of battling cancer. Harwell was known by millions for his excellent voice in the booth along with his weird sayings. Harwell leaves behind his wife of 68 years, Lulu, his two daughters, and two sons. The entire family was by his side when the 92 year old passed away.
When asked by reporters on how he will handle his diagnosis with cancer Harwell replied by saying,
“Whatever happens, I’m ready to face it,” â€œI have a great faith in God and Jesus.”
Harwellâ€™s death was announced to the Tigers while on the road in Minnesota Tuesday night. During the seventh inning stretch the Twins announcer told the stadium about Ernie Harwellâ€™s death. Every fan in the stadium stood up and honored him with a standing ovation. Bud Selig, baseball commisioner had this to say about Harwell,
“All of Major League Baseball is in mourning tonight upon learning of the loss of a giant of our game,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “This son of Georgia was the voice of the Detroit Tigers and one of the game’s iconic announcers to fans across America, always representing the best of our national pastime to his generations of listeners.
“Without question, Ernie was one of the finest and most distinguished gentlemen I have ever met.”
Harwell spent 42 years with the Tigers and was side by side with some of the games greatest announcers like Harry Caray and Jack Buck. In 2002 Ernie Harwell gave his final address to the fans and people of Detroit in one of the best speeches baseball has seen.
“It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure. I’m not leaving, folks. I’ll still be with you, living my life in Michigan — my home state — surrounded by family and friends,” he said.
“And rather than goodbye, please allow me to say thank you. Thank you for letting me be part of your family. Thank you for taking me with you to that cottage up north, to the beach, the picnic, your work place and your backyard. Thank you for sneaking your transistor under the pillow as you grew up loving the Tigers. Now, I might have been a small part of your life. But you’ve been a very large part of mine. And it’s my privilege and honor to share with you the greatest game of all,” he said.
His voice will be forever remembered by generation after generation of Tigers fans as well as everyone else who was ever graced by his voice. You can still hear people recite his famous sayings like,
“Looooooong gone!” for a home run; “He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched that one go by” for a batter taking a called third strike; and “Two for the price of one!” for a double play.
Foul balls into the stands were “Caught by a man from [whatever town in the area that came to his mind].”
The Tigers have honored Harwell by placing a life-size statue outside their stadium as well as renaming the press box, â€œThe Ernie Harwell Media Centerâ€. I would just like to say thanks Ernie for many great years in the booth and you will be truly missed by everyone!