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Harwell was unmatched

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  May 5, 2010 02:00 PM

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They'd better have every flag at every ballpark in Organized Baseball at half mast tonight; that's all I can say.

Ernie Harwell has died at age 92

There are some people who are so nice, so welcoming, so downright pure you almost feel embarrassed to be inhabiting the same planet and breathing the same air. Ernie Harwell was such a man. It is inconceivable that he had an enemy anywhere, let alone in baseball, a sport he served with distinction for six decades.

That's Part A.

Part B is that he was one of the truly great announcers who've ever done a baseball game. The voice was for the rest of us to die for, and it was accompanied by an ever-so-slight Georgia drawl. He had his pet phrases, of course, his most famous coming when someone took a called third strike ("He stood there like a house on the side of the road," and I hope I have it right). But he also appreciated the need for silence. As John Lowe, the great Detroit baseball writer, points out, he allowed us to hear the sounds of the ballpark.

I guarantee you there are a lot of wet eyes in the state of Michigan. Ernie Harwell's voice was the sound of their summers for 42 years.

And what a way to go out. He announced to the world that he had an inoperable tumor last year, and that he had no regrets. So we aren't shocked. But we are sad. I feel like going out and taking a called third strike in his honor.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
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Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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