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Ernie Harwell

"thank You," Not "goodbye"

Harwell announced his retirement from broadcasting in 2002. To honor him and his many years of broadcasting Detroit Tigers games, the ball club honored him at a pregame ceremony at Comerica Park on September 15, 2002. The ceremony lasted an hour, and culminated in the unveiling of a statue of Harwell standing with a microphone at the stadium's entrance. The statue was created by Lou Cella, who also helped sculpt the statues of other Tigers baseball players erected at the stadium. Harwell, in a speech that lasted five minutes, thanked the Tigers for erecting a statue of him, and according to Lowe said, "When I see a statue, I think of history. Of Washington and Lincoln, generals Grant and Lee. I don't deserve a statue or part of history. But let me tell you, from my heart, I'm proud this statue is me."

Harwell finished the day by broadcasting the Tigers game that followed. At one point in his broadcast Harwell said, wrote Lowe, "Our game got started late because they had some old guy out there."

Before his final game, Harwell summed up his 55-year career in the major leagues this way, according to Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press, "I consider myself a worker. I love what I do. If I had my time over again, I'd probably do it for nothing." And, "I had a job to do, and I did it all these years to the best of my ability. That's what I'd like to leave behind as I finish my final game in Toronto."


1918 Born on January 25 in Washington, Georgia
1930s Lands first job as a sports reporter and writer for Sporting News
1940 Lands first job as a sports radio announcer, at WSB in Atlanta, Georgia
1941 Marries wife Lulu
1940s Serves four years in the United States Marines
1948 Broadcasts for the baseball major leagues for the first time, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
1950 Becomes a radio broadcaster for the New York Giants
1951 Broadcasts the first U.S. coast to coast broadcast of a major sporting event
1954 Becomes radio sportscaster for the Baltimore Orioles
1960 Becomes radio sportscaster for the Detroit Tigers
1992 Tigers fire Harwell, begins broadcasting games for the California Angels
1992 Tigers rehire Harwell as broadcaster
1993 Resumes broadcasting for Tigers
2002 Broadcasts final home game on September 22
2002 Retires after season's last game

Awards and Accomplishments

1948 Became first sportscaster to be traded for a player when the Brooklyn Dodgers hire him in exchange for catcher Cliff Dapper
1981 Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame
1991 Inducted into the Sportscasters Hall of Fame
1998 Inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame
2002 Honored with a statue at Detroit's Comerica Park

Harwell broadcast his last game in Detroit on September 22, when the Tigers played the New York Yankees. His final broadcast came on September 29, 2002 in Toronto. After the Tigers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays by 1-0, Harwell delivered to his listeners a farewell address that lasted less than a minute and a half. "Rather than goodbye," the Seattle Times reported him as saying, "please allow me to say thank you.… I might have been a small part of your life, but you have been a large part of mine. It's a privilege and an honor to share with you the greatest game of all. Now God has a new adventure for me. I'm ready to move on, so I leave you with a deep sense of appreciation for your longtime loyalty and support."

Where Is He Now?

Ernie Harwell continues to make his home most of the year in his beloved Michigan. He spends three months of each year with his wife Lulu in Lakeland, Florida.

His plans following retirement include catching up on a lot of reading and seeing a lot of plays. He also has expressed an interest in going back to songwriting, something he had done in the past for Mitch Ryder, B. J. Thomas, and other recording artists. Most of all, Harwell plans to spend plenty of time at home with Lulu. "Lulu and I have traveled a lot," he told the Detroit Free Press's Mike Brudenell, "so we might just take it easy for a little while." And, of course, baseball will never be far from his mind. As he told Brudenell, "I'd also like to watch as many baseball games as possible on TV or listen to them on the radio."

Additional topics

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