Every spring, his smooth Georgian voice would fill the air from Monroe to Manistee, from Holland to Huron.
There I would sit, in my office in late February, watching snow blow sideways out of the window, listening to Ernie's magical voice bring color and breath to a baseball game in sunny Lakeland, Florida.
Somehow… someway… Ernie brought us there.
It was his last spring behind the microphone. The newest Detroit Tiger, Dmitri Young, dug in at the plate. Nobody on. Nobody out.
Ernie said, "There's a long fly ball..." and I could see it. "It could be...", and I believed him. "It's long gone!", Ernie exclaimed, and I lifted my arms in the air, alone in my office, as if I was there with him.
Thanks to Ernie, for as long as I could remember, I was there… even if I was 1500 miles away, sitting at a desk.
Since 1960, we Michiganders have visited every ballpark, with Ernie providing the tour. I felt as if I knew every detail of the Green Monster in Boston, the water fountains in Kansas City, and the walk of fame at Yankee Stadium.
What a ride it has been!
But sadly, this chapter in our lives has closed.
So I'm left to wonder: Who else in this world will know that a man from Ortonville caught Alan Trammell's foul ball? Will another strike-out victim ever "stand there like the house on the side of the road?" And who will tell me about obscure moments in baseball history, and players like Nick Altrock pinch hitting for the Washington Senators in 1933 at the age of 57?
On Wednesday morning, May 5, in my 15 minute commute to church, I listed to a parade of grown men weeping on the radio, all of them sharing stories of the man that few ever met, but all of whom mourned as if they were lifelong friends.
In a very powerful way, though, we all were.
RIP Ernie Harwell… man of faith… Rejoice In Paradise.
We’ll see you when we get home.