Bob "Sarge" Kuzava pitched for the Orioles in 1954, their first season in Baltimore after more than a half-century in St. Louis. That year, a 36-year-old radio announcer named Ernie Harwell also came to Charm City and started a six-year run as the team's play-by-play man. Of course, most baseball fans know him as the voice of the Detroit Tigers, a job that he held for more than four decades after leaving Baltimore. No matter who you root for, chances are that you've taken a liking to Ernie's low-key, folksy broadcasting style. The accolades he's received include the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Ty Tyson Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting. He's also been enshrined in the Sports Halls of Fame in Michigan and Georgia, as well as the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame. At 91 years of age, Harwell is one of baseball's living treasures.
Sadly, Ernie announced yesterday that he has been diagnosed with incurable cancer of the bile duct and he had reached a consensus with his loved ones and doctors to not pursue treatment. At most, he expects to live for another year. But he's lived a long and full life, and if this article is any indication, he's accepting his fate with grace and aplomb. I wish him the best in the time he does have left. I'll wrap this post up with the Bible verse that Ernie quoted to kick off each baseball season:
"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land." (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)