Yesterday, it was reported that Ernie Harwell -- Hall of Fame baseball announcer and longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers -- had passed away at the age of 92 after an extended battle with cancer of the bile duct. And while Ernie, as he was affectionately known by Tiger fans, did dabble in songwriting by scoring a hit with singer Bill Slayback's 1973 ode to Hank Aaron ("Move Over Babe (Here Comes Henry)") and even picked the young, relatively unknown singer Jose Feliciano to sing the National Anthem during the fifth game of the 1968 World Series between the Tigers and the Cardinals, he was best known for the way his voice sounded off record. Often referred to as the Voice of Summer, Ernie's relaxed Southern accent and conversational delivery -- which found him taking long pauses during games so that the crowd noise and sound of the players on the field drifted across the radio to the listeners -- had a lyricism and poetry that rivaled the greatest dramatic reading or top 40 hit. Ernie was a bonafide legend, a sports icon and certainly one of a kind. The last of the great old-school baseball announcers, his warm, friendly voice -- often listened to on small transistor radios -- never got in the way of a fan's enjoyment of the game, but rather became almost mystically intertwined with the sound of play on the field, cheers from the stands, and the chirp of crickets on a hot Michigan summer night.
Ernie's voice was committed to record at least once, with the album The Year of the Tiger '68, which featured Harwell calling various plays during the Detroit Tigers Championship 1968 season. Take a minute to listen to Ernie.
Also, check out the Harwell-penned 1973 Bill Slayback hit "Move Over Babe (Here Comes Henry)."