The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - February 3,1992 - Page 3
Long-time Tiger broadcaster discusses the
game and his career at the mike
Ernie Harwell has been synony-
mous with baseball since he began
his career in 1934 at age 16 as the
Atlanta correspondent for The
Sporting News. Since then, Harwell
has announced for the Atlanta
Crackers, Brooklyn Dodgers, New
York Giants, and the Baltimore
Orioles but he is most famous for
being the voice of the Detroit Tigers
for the last 30 years. Harwell, who
will announce ganes for CBS radio
this year, has seen many of base-
ball's immortals over the years.
Daily Sports Writer Dan Linna got a
chance to speak with Harwell re-
cently about baseball and his
career in broadcasting.
Daily: What is your most fond
memory as a broadcaster'?
Harwell: My fondest memory as
a broadcaster is being on the micro-
phone for NBC Television Oct. 3,
1951 when Bobby Thomson hit the
home run called 'the shot heard
around the world,' and the New
York Giants beat the Brooklyn
Dodgers in the third and final play-
off game that year.
D: Who is the best baseball
player that you have seen in all your
years as a broadcaster'?
H: Willie Mays of the Giants. I
was fortunate enough to see him
break in in 1951. He was a center
fielder who could play center field
like a shortstop. He could run and
hit and field the ball and he was a
power hitter as well as a good per-
D: The 1991 baseball season
witnessed confrontations between
fans and Jose Canseco, Albert Belle,
and Rob Dibble to name a few. Do
you think there is an underlying
problem here that needs to be dealt
H: I think this has always been
with us. It is just emphasized more
now because we have television and
once again we have a proliferation in
the coverage of baseball. The fans
and the players have always been at
odds from time to time. There have
been fights in the stands and fans
throwing things at players. It
* should be controlled. You don't
want to see anyone get hurt on ei-
D: Where are some of your fa-
vorite places to have given broad-
H: Tiger Stadium would be one
of them because it was home and we
had a great view. My next favorite
would be the Kansas City Royals'
stadium. It is a nice, clean ballpark
with friendly people. A good place
to work. And I always liked going
to Fenway Park, but in recent years
they have moved the press box
Continued from page 1
Previous competition is but one
of the keys to qualification. In ad-
dition, these swimmers put in
hours upon hours into their train-
"I swim one and a half hours in
the morning and then two more at
night. I usually swim between 10-
12,000 yards before each day is
over," Namesnik said.
Barrowman, who is taking the
winter term off for training, goes
"I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and train
for two and a half hours. Then, I
come home, eat, nap, then eat again
before going to work out at 1 p.m.
for another three hours of swim-
ming," he said.
Namesnik adds some dry-land
training to his schedule&
"For an hour in the afternoon, I
do some sit-ups,,push-ups and work
with the medicine ball," he said.
Although the physical aspect is
difficult and strenuous, it is not
the toughest part about the prepa-
"The mental part is definitely
the toughest," Wunderlich said.
"You put in all the work, and
you've got to convince your mind
that you can go fast."
According to Wunderlich, one
of the Wolverines, Steve Bigelow,
has his own way of mentally
higher which has hurt the view
there, but it is still a great view
D: What about Tiger Stadium'?
What is your viewpoint on what
should be done?
H: I just want Tiger Stadium to
be wherever the Tigers want it and
wherever the fans want it. I don't
have much of a personal view on
that. I can see the Tigers standpoint
and I can see the city's and the
county's side, too. I just hope the
parties get together and they build a
nice stadium that will be beneficial
D: How did you start your tradi-
tion of assigning a town in your
"guy from Bruce Crossing took that
H: No, but I did have a guy from
Toledo catch a ball one time, and
later on he wrote me a letter and he
said that when he got back home his
friends said it was a man from
Toledo and it actually was a man
D: To what or whom do you at-
tribute your successful broadcasting
H: It's hard to say. I think my
dad instilled the love of baseball in
me, that was one thing. Then when I
started out in Atlanta, Earl Mann,
the owner of the ball club, was very
supportive of me and helped me get
1920's for the Browns and had
something like 260 hits. As far as
the modern players, I know there are
a lot of good ones. You've got them
on the Cincinnati team to begin
with, and then you have Bill Freehan
and Tom Paciorek and Rick Leach
and Jim Abbott.
Abbott has really come into his
own, too. I'm really proud of the
way he's come around. After sort of
a so-so start, he's really picked it up
to become an outstanding No. 1
pitcher. I think over the years we're
really going to see him make his
niche as a pitcher in the American
Tyson isn't the
only one on trial
Mike Tyson's rape trial proceeded with its expected fanfare this
week. Of course, it hasn't been broadcast on CNN the way William
Kennedy Smith's trial was, but America remains fascinated with the
former heavyweight champion's demise in Indianapolis.
The trial is in its early stages, with the prosecution assembling evi-
dence and strong testimony to convince the jury that Tyson did not have a
18-year-old woman's consent before having sex with her back on July 19.
Tyson used to dominate his opponents such that no judge. in any bout
could side against him. This is no longer the case.
When the Indianapolis jury hands down the most.-important decision
of Tyson's life, it will be yet another day of reckoning for America. Like
Smith's acquittal. Like Clarence Thomas' confirmation.
It seems like the good that results from, in this case, trying an alleged
rapist gets lost in the tug of war between those who support the defen-
dant and those who hate to see an accused rapist get acquitted on national
That's what happened.to Smith. The verdict, which CNN and the ma-
jor networks carried live, exonerated Smith. And inevitably, though in-
advertently, it chalked one up for the empowered.
Know who lost that trial? America did.
Many people had to admit something: maybe they were happy for
Smith because they hated to see the Kennedy family slip even further;
maybe they were upset that rape accusers nationwide would now feel
even more pressure not to report their tragedies; maybe they were
ashamed of how the event forced the realization that America is not
nearly as progressive as it likes to think it is.
The Thomas/Anita Hill hearings
had the same effect on many Ameri-
cans. The Mike Tyson trial will, When the
too. ImflU.,..,.ri u
D: What advice would you
to any person who aspires to
H: My advice would be first of
all to learn the game you are going
to broadcast backwards and for-
wards. Learn the rules and em-
pathize with the players--I think
most people have played enough
baseball where they can do that.
Learn the lore, the legends, and
the history of baseball. And I think
you have to love the game to be a
broadcaster. Otherwise the hours are
pretty tough sometimes. The travel
gets tough for some people, and it
would be very boring if you didn't
love the game.
But I think the best thing is to
learn the ame and then from a prac-
tical standpoint, I think if I was
starting out, I would broadcast into
a tape machine and come back and
listen to it and compare my tape
with what I hear from the other
broadcasters. I'd listen to the other
broadcasters and try to discern what
I like and what I don't like about
I would never imitate anybody. I
think God makes us all different,
and that's the way it should be; and
somebody who is himself is better
than any ... or even the best imita-
D: Cecil Fielder has put together
two great seasons for the Tigers; do
you think he can keep it up'?
H: I think he'll continue to be a
good hitter, he may even get better.
It's going to be hard to hit. 40 or
more home runs every year because
the more he establishes himself, the
more the pitchers are going to bear
down on him. He's got to have a
good supporting cast to help him
out and not let pitchers pitch around
him. I think he has established him-
self after two years, and I think he's
probably going to get better as the
years go on.
Tyson has been a controversial
figure in the public since his ill-
fated marriage to actress Robin
Givens. Their divorce was a
tabloid's dream: Givens claimed he
beat her; Tyson claimed she lied and
was only. a gold digger in search of
It seemed like Tyson won the
tabloid war, and coincidentally or
not, won the public's favor.
hands down the most
important decision of
Tyson's life, it will be
yet another day of
But then came his title defeat to Buster Douglas in^-1990. With no
championship belt around his waist, Tyson lost his image as one of the
most fearsome boxers ever, and took on the image of an angry young man
trying to regain what was taken from him.
We can only wonder if Tyson ever achieved the maturity to handle
such traumatic highs and lows in his life. After all, as a teen he was con-
stantly in trouble for engaging in street violence. All of a sudden, the
world was venerating the 19-year-old champion for the way he could
pummel another man in a boxing ring.
Smith may have been found not guilty, but we cannot escape the image
of the crowd outside the West Pahn Beach courtroom cheering for him.
Thomas was confirmed, but we may never be able to esteem our Senate as
highly after witnessing the hearings.
And whether Tyson is convicted or acquitted, we will never, ever, be
able to forget that scalpers were selling courtroom seats at the trial for
upwards of $100.
Tyson's promoter, Don King, says it best.
Only in America.
Former Detroit Tiger announcer Ernie Harwell was recently hired by
CBS Sports to broadcast its national
broadcasts to fans who caught foul
H: I started that in the early 60's
right after I cune to Detroit, proba-
bly '61 or '62. It happened strictly
by accident.. Someone hit a ball into
the stands and I said somebody from
somewhere caught. it and I began to
do it about once a game and it caught
on. People even say to me, "Let a
guy from LaPeer catch one tonight",
or, "Let a guy from Ann Arbor
catch one tonight" on my way to the
D: Did you ever see someone you
knew catch a ball in the stand so
that you actually did know that a,
game of the week.
to the big leagues. Branch Rickey in
Brooklyn was a great supporter of
mine. I think those three people
probably influenced me more than
D: The University of Michigan
has produced quite a few profes-
sional baseball players over the
years, but in your opinion who is the
H: Well, I'd say if you went
back far enough you'd have to say
George Sisler (1913-15), wouldn't
D: To tell you the truth, I didn't
know he came from U of M.
H: He hit over .400 back in the
"You don't want to falter men-
tally," Namesnik said. "It is more
mental than physical now. You
just let things happen as they
Barrowman agreed with his for-
"The days go by real slow," he
native said. "The key is to relight
the fire each day you go out."
For each of those who went to
the trials in Austin, Texas in 1988,
things are much different.
"In 1988, it was my first, big,
major event," Namesnik said. "I
was a rookie. This time, I am more
experienced and more prepared. I
know what to expect. and I will be
ready for it."
Wunderlich is much more pre-
pared this time and will use experi-
ence to his advantage.
"It was my first big-pressure
meet," he said. "I was kind of ner-
vous last time. The first day my
roommate made the tewn, and I
ended up finishing seventh. I
wasn't awe-struck. I was still real
young and didn't know how my
mind and body worked. In 1988, I
was trying to beat the others. Now,
others are closing down, and I am
one of the guys to be beaten."
When Bigelow qualified for the
200-meter backstroke as "just
some little 17-year old" between
his junior and senior years in high
school, he journeyed to Seoul and
found it to be quite an experience.
"It was really different,"
D:...7.., . A Tt li. . . . . . r in
year as the favorite for the gold in
the 200-meter breaststroke, faces a
type of challenge that you would
not normally expect. Barcelona na-
tive Sergio Lopez, a former swim-
mer at American University and
Barrowman's fiercest rival, trains
side-by side with Mike each day.
"Each day is a mental war
against Lopez. If you falter, he
will take advantage of you. The
Olympics is going to be a mess.
When the crowd hears his name,
they are going to go wild. With all
the world watching and being the
favorite, it will be 20 times more
difficult for me."
This year's trials present a
change from those in the past.
Normally, the trials are held about
five or six weeks before the open-
ing of the Games. In 1988, they
took place only three and one-half
weeks before the team had to leave
for South Korea. The short time in
between did not allow the swim-
mers to rest much before the
biggest meet of their lives.
"The timing is unusual,"
Michigan head coach and Olympic
team assistant Jon Urbanchek said.
"This time all the athletes can re-
focus for the Olympics instead of
just cruising. This is the first time
in the history of the event that it
has been held this far in advance."
U.S. Olympic head coach Eddie
Reese was not all sure about the
timing of the event.
"The trials are at a funny time,"
said Reese, who is in his 14th sea-
son as head coach at Texas. "It
might work well. Everyone just
needs to go and swim fast."
When asked, Reese had nothing
but praise for the Wolverine
"Wunderlich is in real good po-
sition. Namesnik's times speak for
themselves. Barrowman is one of
the toughest swimmers in the
world. He does with as much as
he's got as I have ever seen. Brian
Gunn has got to be one of the fa-
vorites in the 200 fly. Bigelow
swam 'real fast against Stanford,
and you can't count him out."
"The Olympic trials are a pres-
sure cooker," Urbanchek said. "It
is a great accomnplishment just to
get there. It is the second highest
event next to the Olympics them-
Michigan swimmer Brian Gunn is one of at least 10 Wolverine swimmers
who are hoping to compete in this summer's Olympics.
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