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Ernie Harwell

Moves Up To The Majors

In 1948, Harwell moved up to the major leagues, broadcasting games for the Brooklyn Dodgers. This appointment came after he was traded for a player. This was the first time, and, as of the date of Harwell's retirement in 2002, the only time, a player was traded for a sportscaster. The president of the Atlanta Crackers, Earl Mann, let Harwell go to the Brooklyn Dodgers only after Dodger president Wesley Branch Rickey agreed to send Dapper to manage the Atlanta Crackers. (Harwell and Dapper met for the first time only in 2002, at a ceremony honoring Harwell at Detroit's Comerica Park, when Dapper took part in the ceremony.) The season Harwell joined the Dodgers was the second season with the Dodgers for Jackie Robinson, the first African American to player to play in the major leagues.

In 1950, Harwell moved to the New York Giants. He stayed with that team until 1953, and it was there, in 1951, that Harwell took part in broadcasting history. This was when he broadcast the first telecast of a major sporting event heard from one coast of the United States to the other. The occasion was the final game of the 1951 playoffs, and the competing teams were the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The highlight of that game was the game-winning home run by Giant Bobby Thomson that was later remembered by baseball fans as "the shot heard round the world." It was a big year for Harwell; also that year, he introduced the great Willie Mays to Giants fans, an event he remembered with much fondness in later years. "Mays was simply the best," he later told Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press. "He could throw, hit and run."

In 1954, Harwell moved to the Baltimore Orioles. He remained with that team until 1959. Then, in 1960, he moved to the team that he would stay with for every year but one for the rest of his broadcasting career, the Detroit Tigers.

Before the 1992 season, Harwell was fired from the Tigers by Tigers president Bo Schembechler. Some speculated that Tigers owner Tom Monaghan prompted this action. The action was later called by John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press "the most unpopular move the club has ever made."

Harwell then went to work for the California Angels, broadcasting games for that team for the 1992 season. However, also in 1992, the Tigers were bought by Mike Ilitch, who promptly rehired Harwell. Harwell was back as the Tigers' announcer beginning with the 1993 season. "One of the highlights of my career," Harwell said in a speech in a pregame ceremony to honor him at Comercia Park in 2002, according to John Lowe, "one of the things I'm most grateful for, is that when Mike Ilitch bought the Tigers, he brought me back to be the announcer."

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsSports JournalismErnie Harwell Biography - A Life In Baseball, Moves Up To The Majors, "thank You," Not "goodbye"