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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Tribute to Ernie Harwell . . .

Mark Rothman pens a lovely tribute to the late, great baseball broadcaster, Ernie Harwell:

A Beautiful Day For A Ballgame.
From Ernie Harwell,
Thursday, May 6th, 2010.

Yes fans, it's an absolutely beautiful day out here at Comerica Park, and there are a whole lot of fans here to be part of it.
I wish I was around to see it.
Well, maybe I am.
It depends on what you believe.
The Detroit Tigers are playing the Cleveland Indians in the opening of a three game series.
But not here.
And not until tomorrow.
In Cleveland.
The fans here today are here to see me.
I'm lying in state, right here at the main entrance, and I'll be here all day and night, until the last fan leaves.
I didn't want any public memorials.
The Tigers' owners have honored my wishes, and months ago, we agreed on this public viewing, and I'm honored to receive it.
I insisted that there would be free parking for all who came, and that cold water and hot coffee be offered to those in line.
The lines are very very long.
Thousands and thousands of people.

You know, I should have specified what kind of piped-in music would be played.
This stuff is quite maudlin, serious, and depressing.
A bit dirgelike.
I think I would have preferred "Take Me Out To The Ballgame".
Even if it was played in this tempo.

In the middle of the line, I see Mark Rothman.
I really didn't expect to see him.
He almost never leaves the house.
And he hates standing in lines.
He must have really liked me.

I met and spoke with him several times.
He told me how he grew up in New York, and how Vin Scully was his God of sportscasting.
And how he spent about ten years in Detroit listening to me, and that I was at least as good.
I think he meant it as a complement.
At least that's how I took it.
But then, I seem to be known for my graciousness.

There sure are a lot of youngsters here.
Each with their mothers or fathers,or both.
These kids certainly never heard me call a game.
They're too young.
They probably have no idea why they're here.
I can hear fathers telling their children "Just be glad you're here. Eventually, it will be a moment you'll never forget."
That's certainly nice to hear.

Rothman is getting closer. He just accepted a cup of cold water from one of the attendants.
He's wearing a Tigers cap.
It looks pretty good on him.
He's also wearing a Tigers T-Shirt.
It's hanging very loose on him.
That makes sense.
Since the last time I saw him, he's lost a lot of weight.
He looks very good.
He has the kind of physique that would look particularly good in a Tigers home uniform.
We could sure use his bat in the lineup.
Too bad he can't field.
He's good-hit, no glove.
I guess he can always be a DH.
Except that he's so slow.
If he hit a home run, it would take him a month to get around the bases.

Here he comes.....right near the casket.
He's holding up the cup of water.
He's toasting me with it.
A tear is falling from his left eye.
He's a lefty.
Bats left, throws left......cries left.
He's waving good-bye to me.
Good-bye, Mark.


From Rothman:

Good-bye Ernie.
It was an honor to have met you, talked to you, and be at Comerica to see you last Thursday.
It has been a great reason to be in Detroit.

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