As much as this blog focuses on the experience of a day at the ballpark, it’s hard to believe that I’ve yet to really mention the great broadcasters. This will make me sound old, but there was a time, when the broadcaster was as integral a part of the “at the ballpark” experience as the seats, the hot dogs, or the world’s largest HD replay scoreboard. If you’re over 30, you probably at least have some memory of listening to the radio at the game. If you do, hopefully you’ll also have an indelible memory of Ernie Harwell. Harwell, the legendary Tigers broadcaster, died yesterday at the age of 92.
We’re fortunate to live in an era where we bridge the gap from the traditional to the technological, and if we are willing to be patient and observant, we can carry truly indelible memories of the voices that provide color to this game for so many. I was fortunate enough to sing, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the presence of Harry Caray in both Mesa, AZ and Wrigley Field in Chicago. I watched All-Star games and saturday afternoon broadcasts with Vin Scully at the mic, and now treasure every chance I get to hear him on my East Coast TV. I can still hear Harry Kalas every time I watch the Phillies, and I think of Ernie Harwell whenever I see the Tigers.
It’s an era that’s ending. An era of grace and professionalism that is seldom seen from today’s broadcasters. The description of the game is enough. You don’t have to inject yourself into the broadcast for me to “see” you. I think Charley Steiner understands that, and nis one of the few old-school broadcasters out there right now. I might put Jon Miller there too. Matt Vasgergian? Joe Morgan? Tim McCarver? I don’t think so. They make me turn the sound down, not up.
So, the next time you head out to the ballpark, dig a transistor radio out of your basement, and listen to the broadcaster instead of staring at the JumboTron. It’s a tip of the cap to the Great Ernie Harwell, and an experience you won’t soon forget.
If you can’t find a transistor radio, or don’t know what it is, you should be able to pick up your XMRadio feed or an iPhone app for MLB Radio. Not quite the same, but just as effective.