"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."
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."