Photo credit:National Baseball Hall of Fame Library

Ernie Harwell

William Earnest Harwell
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2015
Connection to Michigan: Detroit Tigers
Primary position: Radio Broadcaster

The voice of baseball for generations of Detroit Tigers fans, Ernie Harwell was calling Atlanta Crackers games in 1948 when Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber was felled by a bleeding ulcer. Needing to urgently replace Barber, Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey contacted Atlanta and traded catcher Cliff Dapper in exchange for Harwell’s broadcast services.

A decade later, after broadcasting games for the Dodgers, Giants and Orioles, Harwell agreed to join Detroit during the 1959 World Series, delivering the call of Tigers games from 1960-1991 and 1993-2002.

His trademark sayings were beloved – from beginning the first broadcast of each season with “The Voice of the Turtle,” a reading from Song of Solomon, to saying a batter striking out looking was “out for excessive window shopping” or “stood there like the house by the side of the road.”

Harwell was named Michigan Sportscaster of the Year 17 times, received the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award in 1981 and was posthumously awarded the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting in 2010. The visiting broadcast booth in Cleveland was named in his honor, as is the Detroit Tigers’ media center at Comerica Park.

“Baseball?” Ernie Harwell said in his Cooperstown address. “Just a game – as simple as a ball and a bat. And yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes.”

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