Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Vin Scully, on Ernie Harwell

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)

18 comments:

Steve Sax said...

Thanks for transcribing this, Orel! I heard this on the way home while listening to the radio broadcast and I realized it was a keeper. Scully's tribute was really thoughtful, and considering Harwell had died two hours prior, it clearly wasn't carefully scripted, either.

Steve Sax said...

I should also note that it was very gracious of Reed Johnson and Russell Martin to have fruitless at bats, as to allow Vin to move the story along seamlessly.

Dusty Baker said...

Thanks, Orel.

I noted this part:

"the last time I talked to him a couple of weeks ago"

So Vin was talking to him somewhat regularly then, it would seem. That's fantastic. Can you imagine the kind of conversations they would have, or would have had over the years?

Dusty Baker said...

Also found this interesting:

"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."

He does it all the time, and does it so well, and it's what the people want, so I wonder why he felt like making such a caveat this time?

Didre said...

Thanks for the transcription. As a Tigers fan I was fortunate to grow up with Ernie. And how great is Vin to tell that story without interrupting the flow of the game. I buy the Extra Innings package to follow my Tigers, but I think I'd get it to just listen to Vin as well.

Mr. Customer said...

I'm guessing he probably gave the caveat because it was impromptu. What an amazing guy (both of them).

Alibi Ike said...

Thank you for transcribing it. I grew up in Detroit, and Ernie was everything Vin described, and more. Truly one of the good ones.

All Dodger fans should relish Vin while you still have him, and show your kids what a great broadcaster does.

eyebleaf said...

Thanks for doing this.

Orel said...

Welcome, Tigers fans! One legend describing another — something to savor indeed.

mb said...

From a Met fan who just likes baseball and got lucky on the Internet today, thank you so much for transcribing this.

Dusty Baker said...

Here's You Tube footage of Vin's vignette from last night:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We8i8Qc5vBg&feature=player_embedded

Dusty Baker said...

Ken Levine weighs in, quite poignantly:

http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2010/05/ernie-harwell.html

PulledPorker said...

Hey, thanks for doing this! Kinda sums up both men. Great guys who love the game and have made it fun for God knows how many. I love that Vin called the game while giving some thoughts on Ernie. It couldn't have been any other way, eh?

Dusty Baker said...

Is there a SoSG Tigers equivalent out there? Sons of Jack Morris?

Jason said...

@Dusty - Great Grandsons of Sparky Anderson?

Steve Sax said...

@Dusty: Or should we do Sons of Kirk Gibson and make this a joint blog?

On second thought, maybe I should just go and start a Tigers blog and report this news on that blog.

Rob said...

Of course, the MLBAM monsters have chased off the Scully excerpt from YouTube. What jackasses.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

I don't know about Sons of Jack Morris or Grandsons of Sparky, but maybe Dodgers fans and Tigers fans could have a joint blog called "Kids of Kirk" -- after all, can't we BOTH claim Gibby as one of our team's best sluggers?

Game 5 of 1984 WS - Two Upper Deck HRs

Game 1 of the 1988 WS - Needs no explanation!