My Baseball Memories: What Ernie Harwell Taught Me about Life
I grew up in what is arguably the most bankrupt major city in the US (morally and financially)—Detroit. Actually living in the city for a while and then just outside of it afforded me the opportunity to go to The Corner multiple times a season. I remember attending games and having to wiggle back and forth to see the entire field. Those obstructed view seats seemed everywhere when I was a kid. Blocked views aside, I got to see some of the greatest Tigers play: Kirk Gibson, Mark “The Bird” Fydrich, Jack Morris, Sweet Lou, Cecil Fielder, and on and on. My most prominent memory was getting to watch The Bird, once. 1977. I was 9. Indeed The Bird was “the Word” in Motown. His odd and unique delivery, the argument over whether or not he spoke to the ball, and all the quirks that came with him. It was a show with him. Baseball doesn’t have many outstanding quirky players like this, instead of headlines watching the wackiness of a great athlete, we get inundated with PED reports, of suspensions as a result of the Biogenesis investigation. Mark was refreshing. He was so awkward. And I actually wanted, for a brief time, to be as odd as him, but at my Little League position of catcher. It was a fleeting thought as my knees and eyes starting going, so it was off to a different sport. RIP Bird.
As much as I enjoyed that one vivid moment and watching him on TV, it wasn’t the best or most important part of my Tigers experience. Not by a long shot. The best part of growing up a Detroit Tigers fan wasn’t the players of that era or the past. I knew the storied history of the Tigers. Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, and Hank Greenberg are just a few; the list goes on and on. It wasn’t the storied history of the franchise. It wasn’t how awesome Tiger Stadium seemed as a kid when I went to games. It wasn’t any of that. It was a voice. A golden voice. A calm voice. THE voice of baseball.
THE voice of the Tigers. THE voice of MLB. He was ranked 16th by the American Sportscasters Association a few years ago, but he really isn’t that low on the list. Not to those who grew up hearing the man who introduced the start of each season with “The Voice of the Turtle”.
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