Vin Scully, from last night's telecast:
I have a problem and I hope you will understand and bear with me.
One of the finest men we have ever met and a great broadcaster, he's in the Hall of Fame, Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Tigers for so many years, who started with the Dodgers broadcasting in 1948, passed away today.
The strike two pitch is outside, ball one.
But there's a great story about Ernie, who came to the Dodgers in 1948 and '49, then he went to the Giants, and then he was with the Detroit Tigers from 1960 to 1991, and from 1993 through 2002.
The pitch to Reed Johnson is down and away.
So I really want to salute him and at the same time I don't want to get in the way of the ballgame, so see if we can possibly do both.
Two-and-two the count to Johnson.
Before Ernie Harwell ever made it to the big leagues, he established a record, as Reed hits it foul down the line.
What happened was, in 1948, the Dodgers were in Pittsburgh on an off-day. Red Barber was going to play golf at the Pittsburgh Field Club, and instead he hemorrhaged and was rushed to an emergency hospital, and the Dodgers had one announcer — a good one — by the name of Connie Desmond. But one announcer with a full season ahead is pretty tough.
Two-two pitch is high, ball three.
Now, Branch Rickey, who ran the Brooklyn Dodgers, had a friend by the name of Arthur Mann, who ran the Atlanta Crackers in the Sally league. So Branch Rickey called Arthur Mann and said, "I need your announcer." And Arthur Mann said, "I need a catcher."
Here's the three-two pitch coming up to Reed Johnson. Fastball lifted back of first, down the line. A trio of Brewers, it'll be the right fielder Corey Hart making the play, and we have one out.
So a deal was set up. The Dodgers sent a catcher, Clint Dapper, to Atlanta. And the Atlanta club sent Ernie Harwell to the Brooklyn Dodgers. So Ernie was the first and only baseball broadcaster to be involved in a trade.
He was such a lovely man, everybody loved Ernie, and eventually he just stole the hearts of everybody in Detroit and the state of Michigan, and for that matter anybody who loved baseball.
Russell Martin takes high, ball one, one and oh.
Ernie was blessed, I mean really blessed. He lived to be 91, and he was married for over 67 years, to the same lady by the name of Lulu.
There's a ground ball to short. Up to get it is Escobar, takes care of Martin. So we have two down in the first inning.
Well, Ernie passed away just about two hours ago or thereabouts. I never could say God bless you to Ernie because God had blessed him indeed. And from what I heard, the last time I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, he was ready to go. He was totally and completely at peace. You and I should be that lucky.
So anyway, we say goodbye to Ernie today. Detroit's in Minnesota. I wish they'd been at home, but they weren't. And we have lost a very dear, gentle soul, Ernie Harwell.
Okay, two out, first inning, no score....
And Tony Jackson has more Vin anecdotes at ESPN.com, including this one:
"He was with the Dodgers in '48 and '49, then I sat in his chair. I didn't follow or succeed him, I just sat in his chair. He was so gracious and kind. Probably the best word is that he was a gentleman, and it came across. He just cared for people. He loved baseball. He was such a nice guy, so you can understand why the people of Detroit just loved him."
Also Scully remembers Harwell (MLB.com)