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December 28, 1990 - Image 42

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-12-28

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All Fired Up

The outcry over Tiger broadcaster Harwell's
dismissal was, with few exceptions, loud and
strong within Detroit's Jewish community.


Staff Writer


f it did anything, the fir-
ing of Tigers baseball
broadcaster Ernie
Harwell united practically
all of Detroit Jewry with
each other and with the gen-
eral community.
It didn't matter that
Harwell isn't a landsman in
the traditional sense. The
voice of the Tigers had
become one anyway,
through his integrity and
long tenure at the
And, on Dec. 20, the day
after his dismissal was an-
nounced, the pain and an-
guish crossed all the lines,
from a hospital president in
Detroit to senior citizens in
Oak Park, from the yeshivah
students in Southfield to the
businessman in Livonia and
the women in their 50s hav-
ing lunch in the Bingham
Farms deli.
"I'm appalled that this
gentleman, whom I believe
is the epitome of class, was
treated in a classless way,"

said Robert Steinberg, pres-
ident of Sinai Hospital,
about Harwell who, in 1988,
received the Michigan Jew-
ish Sports Hall of Fame's
Alvin N. Foon Memorial
Award for his contributions
to sports and athletics in
"As my grandmother

_would say, it was not ment-
shlich the way they treated
him. These two guys
(Harwell and broadcast
partner Paul Carey) are a
couple of mentshes and
didn't deserve" what
Steinberg, who knows both
men, said the two "exuded

"If the Tigers wanted them
to retire, they should have at
least given them the oppor-
tunity to go out with dignity
and honor, and not take a
man (Harwell) who is in the
Baseball Hall of Fame and
treat him like a stranger."
Steinberg, a one-time
Tiger hopeful as a youth,
listens to 40 or 50 Harwell-
Carey broadcasts a season
and predicted the ballclub
will suffer. "Some people are
saying the ballclub or the
sponsors don't deserve to be
supported. They're saying,
`If this is the way the team
treats its good guys, what do
you have to be?' " he said.
Jerry Moss of Southfield, a
member of the senior men's
discussion group at the
Jimmy Prentis Morris Jew-
ish Community Center, laid
it on the line at the JCC
Thursday morning.
"Tom Monaghan is a fool
and Bo Schembechler is a
fool" for the handling of the
firing. "Harwell has done a
lot for Detroit and Michigan,
both in the state and around
the country. Many radio sta-
tions will quit carrying the

Ernie Harwell will be gone after 1991.

broadcasts. Ernie Harwell's
voice is wonderful."
"Why they let him go is a
mystery," said Dave Weiner
of Oak Park. "He still has all
his faculties."
Ruth Coblentz of
Southfield, a volunteer
foodserver at JPM, said she
thinks the whole thing "is
political. They (Tiger
management) want to move
Tiger Stadium and he lived
for the Tigers. Tiger

Stadium is home to him and
he didn't want to leave
"If they had players who
played with their hearts like
Harwell announces games,
they'd win the World
Series," she said.
A teacher's aide at the
Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in
Southfield was irate.
"It was the most stupid
mistake ever," said 18-year-
old Leah Ishakis, a self-

he won his 31st? Or have
those musical contacts with
Jose Feliciano to set up one
of the wildest national an-
them renditions in World
Series history?
Baseball isn't the Lions
(thank God!). It's not the
Pistons, the Wolverines or
the Spartans. It is not the

boost when we most needed
it. The come-from-behind
team of 1968 made us
forget the urban fires of
1967, brought us back
together again in a com-
mon, even if trivial cause.
The 1984 world champions'
35-5 start and overwhelm-
ing thumping of the San
Diego Padres took away
the sting of the Murder
Capital label and the econ-
omic changes forced by the
recesssion of the early
And who was there,
through it all, making it
important but keeping it in
perspective? Ernie
Harwell. No, he's not Jew-
ish but he's probably done
more to influence us as in-
dividuals than our rabbis
have. Through the good
times and the bad, for the
Tigers and for ourselves,
we had Ernie, and by
association Paul Carey,

The Voice Of Summer


Associate Editor


t won't be until a year
from February that I'll
miss Ernie Harwell.
After all, nothing has
changed for the mome-
ment. Ernie will be back
behind the microphone next
season, bringing a sense of
order to the world as he has
done for 31 years in
Old Ern' is pure escapism
at its best for Detroit sports
fans. He makes washing
the car or cutting the grass
on a warm summer eve-
ning less of a chore. It is the
right thing to be doing —
whatever we are doing —
when old Ernie is talking
softly in the background.
That sweet Georgia voice.
That fountain of baseball
wisdom. That fine gentle-
man who is a throwback to



another era can always
make the world seem, right,
whether it was the Tigers'
world or our world, whether
we, or they, were winning or
He has the knack of
taking his listeners back to
that other time, the time in
all of our lives when the
pace is slower, when out-
side irritations just seem to
fade into insignificance,
even if only for nine inn-
ings. We can be children
again while listening to
Ernie Harwell.
He is a perfect match for
the game of baseball. It is
not a modern game. It
takes too long; there's too
little action as we watch
the pitcher scratch and
spit, remove his cap and
wipe his brow, settle into a
stance and stare in for the
sign, and finally — if the
runner on first doesn't
force the pitcher to step off

the rubber to bluff the
runner back —we'll see one
pitch head for home plate.
But where else can you
listen for five minutes and
hear nothing happen, but
visualize everything hap-
pening through the golden
voice of Ernie Harwell?
Where else can five
minutes of inaction lead to
a dramatic hit, a diving
catch, a collision at home, a
nasty argument with the
ump? And those five
minutes of waiting are fill-
ed with wonderful detail,
charming anecdotes and
pieces of your history as
Ernie recalls the bits of
nostalgia and trivia that
Tiger fans have lived and
died with for 31 years.
How does he know that
the fan in section 223 who
caught the foul ball is from
Southfield? Or remember
exactly what Denny Mc-
Clain was throwing when

Where else can
you listen for five
minutes and hear
nothing happen,
but visualize

fast-paced, furious all-out
action that mirrors the
pace of our lives.
Baseball — Tiger
baseball — has picked us
up, has given this town a

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