The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - April 22, 1991- Page 3
T eltlelcs B oac caste E lr/i Ilate-ulell
The voice of the
about his past, future endeavors
Ernie Harwell came to Ann
Arbor on April 12 to sign copies of
his books Tuned to Baseball and the
recently released Diamond Gems.
*Harwell has been the voice of the
Detroit Tigers since 1960 and is a
member of the Baseball Hall of
Fame. This winter, Harwell an-
nounced that a management deci-
sion by the Tigers and flagship
station WJR would make 1991 his
final season with the Tigers.
Harwell spoke with Daily sports
writer Mike Gill.
Daily: Will there be another
book, with the success of this one?
Harwell: We might have another
one, but it's still in the planning
stage. I don't know what's going to
happen. There's a chance. If some-
body wants one, we'll do another.
D: How did you come about
compiling this? Was it from re-
search or from hearing stories
H: Well, it's a combination, re-
ally. Some of them are things people
have told to me personally that I
know. Some of them are things that
have happened to me - my involve-
ment. Some of them have been sto-
ries that have been hanging around
for awhile, so you pull them out.
Some of them have been researched.
D: So you like the newspaper
business? I see you're writing a col-
H: Well, I started out as a news-
paper mar. I would have never got-
ten into radio if I hadn't failed as a
newspaper guy. I couldn't find a job
when I got out of school. I'd been
working on the paper for six years
and there weren't any jobs open. I
got out of college and I just hap-
pened to take an audition at a radio
* station and got lucky. Otherwise, I
would have been a sportswriter all
D: How do you react to the pub-
lic and the way they feel about you?
H: It's hard for me to under-
stand, but I appreciate it. I think
that the great thing is that the
Tigers have so many fans all over
Michigan and I just happen to be the
pipeline to the Tigers. I think that's
probably the reason.
D: Did you ever realize before
the situation happened in December
that you had such a following out
H: Not really. I knew that peo-
ple were interested in the Tigers and
the announcer but I didn't think it
would come to this extent cer-
tainly. It took that situation to
trigger it, I guess.
D: In the book you just came out
with, is there a favorite anecdote
H: I sort of like the one about
Salty Parker, the fellow who came
from Toledo and he never even got
to the ballgame. He was one of five
or six Tigers who went to the ban-
quet afterwards. They were all in-
vited. All the players who went got
a new Chevrolet. Here he was a
rookie, and he just reported that day,
and here he went. These old timers
that didn't go, they were a little
mad because this guy got a car.
They'd played for the Tigers for
years and, well, it was their fault
they didn't go to the banquet so they
didn't get a Chevrolet.
D: I guess it was worth the time
to go to that banquet.
H: (laughs) Right. Right.
D: As far as your broadcasting
style, they say everyone's got their
own signature home run call. Dick
Enberg, Mel Allen. You've got
H : Long Gone. It sort of
happened a few years ago - I'd say
seven or eight years. It just
happened, like a lot of things you do.
I started doing it and people seemed
to react to it, so I just kept it. It's
sort of a signature now.
D: How long have you done the
naming of cities for foul ball recipi-
H: That's been going since about
the time I came to Detroit. I'd say
around 1961 or 1962. That's another
thing that happened by accident and
people reacted to it and so I kept it
going. Somebody hit one into the
stands and I just happened to men-
tion that this guy's from wherever I
said - Livonia or Ann Arbor or
D: I've heard stories that people
think the ushers hold up different
color signs or numbers to tell you
what city they're from.
H: Yeah, or we check charts, or
we have a computer (laughs) or I
check everybody's ID card when
they come in the gate.
D: They think you're a lot
smarter than you really are.
H: (laughs) I wish I could be
D: Was Opening Day this year a
little different feeling for you?
H: I think so. I was just glad to
get into the game and away from
some of the distractions. I spent
most of my time doing interviews
(before the game). Not that I
minded doing it, because I was happy
to be available as long as I could,
but it was sort of time consuming.
D: Were you tired out by the
time the game started?
H: (laughs) Almost. But I relax
during the game. Once you start the
broadcast you're concentrating on
the game and that's the paramount
thing. Everything else just falls
D: Is it hard not to hold resent-
H: I don't feel that way at all. I
just don't feel any bitterness or any
animosity toward anybody. I have to
accept this. I'm not going to let
those feelings creep into my psyche
D: Is there any type of scenario
you would want for your final
H: No, I'm going to take it as it
comes. I don't like to plan too far
ahead. It would be too contrived, I
think, if I did it like that. I'll do
D: I know you are working with
the Domino's Pizza distributor
RPM. Have you had a lot of other
offers as far as endorsements?
H: Yeah, a lot of them. We've
turned down quite a few and we're
contemplating others. We've got to
be careful, we don't want to overex-
D: Would you be interested,
come a year from now, to do the
ESPN Sunday night game of the
H: Well, I might. I'm just going
to be open to all those types of of-
fers and see what happens.
D: Does any specific moment
stick out to you a little more in
H: Yep. From the Tiger stand-
point, the Jim Northrup triple in
the seventh game of the World
Series. Being at Cooperstown when
they put me in the Hall of Fame,
from a career standpoint, has to be a
number one thrill. The other game
would be the Bobby Thomson home
run in 1951 in the playoff. That's
probably the real highlight of my
career as far as broadcasting goes.
will last us a lifetime
Inevitably, each day for the last week someone would come up to me
and say, "Eh, Gill, so this one's the last one, huh?"
And I would shake my head, admitting that this will be the last
time readers of the Michigan Daily will wake up staring at that
grotesque face on page three each Monday. "What ya gonna write
about?" they would ask. "I don't have a clue," I would say. Then I
would ask for suggestions, which were many and varied.
"Go out on a blaze of glory," someone said. "Start your own
Michigan State-like scandal. Write about athletes out of control at par-
ties, staying up too late, swearing, carousing, brawling. Boy, that sure
would get them."
"Should I include what you do?" I asked. "Oh, no, that doesn't
count," came the reply.
"How about one more giant rip on the band?" came another sugges-
tion. "You know, suggest that they bring in New Kid Donnie Wahlberg
for a ceremony and torch Revelli Hall for a big bonfire. It could be a
pep rally for the football team before the Notre Dame game."
"Nah, bad idea," I said. "Band director Gary Lewis lets out enough
of his own bad gas that the place could go up any second."
There were numerous other suggestions from friends, but none
turned out to be quite the novel idea that they first envisioned. And here
I was without a clue of what to say - not to mention an idea of what
I'm doing once President George Bush tells me that I am now an alum-
nus of this school.
So to sound like a commencement speaker, myself and numerous col-
leagues sit poised on the frontier of a New World Order. And, to bor-
row a phrase from a Ronald Reagan State of the Union address, "we
look to the future with courage, confidence and hope."
People talk of moving on - of looking to the future. For some, it
might be moving back home with their parents and finding a summer
job, before returning to Ann Arbor this fall.
For others, it means moving on to a new career. It means saying
goodbye to this different midwestern town and heading to all four cor-
ners of the country. It means throwing away notebooks filled with the
See GILL, Page 6
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