Things You May Not Know About Ernie Harwell
Detroit Tigers radio voice Ernie Harwell, 84, announced last
month that this will be his final season broadcasting major
league games after 55 years, 42 of them with the Tigers.
--He battled a speech impediment as a child in Atlanta, unable
to properly form s or ch sounds.
--At 16 he sent samples of his writing to The Sporting News,
using the name W. Earnest Harwell (he thought that made him
sound older) and was hired as a correspondent.
--He was the paperboy for Margaret Mitchell. In 1939 he covered
the premiere of Gone With the Wind as a writer for LIFE.
--After graduating from Emory University and spending four years
in the Marine Corps during World War II, Harwell began
broadcasting games for the Southern Association's Atlanta
--When Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber was hospitalized
during the 1948 season, Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey
needed a quick replacement. Crackers owner Earl Mann needed a
catcher. Mann traded Harwell for minor league backstop Cliff
Dapper, the only known deal involving a broadcaster.
--He worked the three-game 1951 National League playoff between
the Giants and the Dodgers, which concluded with Bobby Thomson's
Shot Heard Round the World, for NBC. It was the first sports
event televised live coast to coast.
--He has missed only two games in his career: in 1968 to attend
his brother Davis's funeral and in '89 when he was inducted into
the National Sportscasters' Hall of Fame (one of nine Halls of
Fame of which he's a member, including the one in Cooperstown).
--He has two consecutive-game streaks longer than Cal Ripken's
--An accomplished songwriter, he has had more than 50 pieces
recorded by artists such as B.J. Thomas and Mitch Ryder.
--After then Tigers president Bo Schembechler told Harwell that
the 1991 season would be his last with the club, a poll
conducted by a Detroit TV station ran 9,352-265 in favor of
keeping Harwell. When Mike Ilitch bought the team in August '92,
one of his first moves was to reinstate Harwell. --Pete
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