(Senate - September 13, 2002)

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[Pages S8622-S8623]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         HONORING ERNIE HARWELL

  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, on behalf of the majority leader, I ask 
unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate 
consideration of S. Res. 327, submitted earlier today by Senators 
Stabenow and Levin.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 327) honoring Ernie Harwell.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I am pleased and honored to join my 
colleague from Michigan, Senator Stabenow, in offering a resolution 
commemorating the achievements and retirement of Ernie Harwell. Ernie, 
a Hall of Fame broadcaster, will conclude his remarkable 55-year career 
upon calling his last game for the Detroit Tigers this season. For most 
of the last 42 years, Ernie has served as the voice of the Tigers, and 
I know that Detroit fans, as well as baseball fans everywhere, will 
miss Ernie's distinctive voice and irreplaceable baseball wit. In a 
city rich with baseball tradition, Ernie is as much of a part of Tiger 
baseball as the Olde English D and Tiger Stadium.
  For four decades, Ernie Harwell's unwaveringly calm voice has 
provided Tigers fans with an incomparable mixture of play-by-play 
description, baseball history, and sensible statistics. Much of Ernie's 
appeal grew out of the fact that he almost never lets emotion overtake 
him. He lets his words, his description of the game, paint a vivid 
picture of the events for the listeners at home.
  Ernie Harwell was born on January 25, 1918, in Washington, GA. As a 
boy, he delivered newspapers on a route that included the famed author 
Margaret Mitchell's home. Before launching his sports career, Ernie 
served as a Marine in World War II. He also acted in several movies 
including ``One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'' He began his baseball 
career as a sportswriter and copy editor for the Atlanta Constitution. 
Luckily for us, he did not stay in that position long; in 1943 he left 
to become an announcer for the Southern Association's Atlanta Crackers.
  Ernie's skills were quickly recognized in Atlanta, and in 1948 he 
became the only announcer ever traded for a player! Branch Rickey, the 
General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, traded catcher Cliff Dapper to 
the Crackers to allow Ernie to break his contract. His tenure in 
Brooklyn was highlighted by calling Jackie Robinson's best season, 
1949, when Robinson was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for the 
National League while leading the Dodgers to the pennant.
  The next year, Ernie left Brooklyn to go across town and call New 
York Giants games on the burgeoning medium of television. While there, 
he called Willie Mays's debut game in 1951 and Bobby Thomson's ``Shot 
Heard 'Round the World'' at the end of that season when the Giants won 
the pennant. Unlike Russ Hodges' who shouted ``The Giants win the 
pennant!'', Ernie stuck to his style and simply said ``it's gone'' when 
the ball shot off Thomson's bat. That was all baseball fans needed.
  After a short stint as the first broadcaster of the Baltimore 
Orioles, he was hired as the voice of the Detroit Tigers, where he has 
stayed for 42 of the last 43 years. Ernie quickly became a part of the 
Tigers family. ``If you do this job for a while in one city and you're 
pretty good, you become part of the family,'' he once said. ``They take 
you to the beaches and the mountains and the cottages, the workplace 
and the kitchen. That's gratifying, but it's sort of humbling, too, 
that people are that interested and they listen.''
  Ernie called the 1968 and 1984 World Series that crowned the Tigers 
world champions. He was in Detroit for the

[[Page S8623]]

careers of many baseball's greats, including the soon-to-retire Travis 
Fryman, now with the Cleveland Indians. Fryman, one of Ernie's favorite 
players in Detroit, presented him with an Indians hat and jersey during 
the Tigers' last trip to Cleveland. During that series, Indians 
officials named the visiting radio booth in the Jacobs Field press box 
the ``Ernie Harwell Visiting Radio Booth.''
  The true devotion of Tigers fans to Ernie Harwell was made loud and 
clear when the Tigers' then-new management informed Ernie that 1991 
would be his last season as the Tigers' broadcaster. They said they 
wanted to go with a younger and newer voice. Following a public outcry, 
the Motor City brought home its familiar voice in time for the 1993 
season. He has been with Detroit ever since.
  Ernie's achievements have been recognized on both the local and 
national stage. He has been voted Michigan Sportscaster of the Year 17 
times and is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. In 1981 he 
was just the fifth broadcaster to be elected to Baseball's Hall of 
Fame. In 1988 he became a member of the Radio Hall of Fame and the 
following year he was elected to the National Sportscasters Hall of 
  Ernie's talents extend beyond the microphone. He is an accomplished 
author and songwriter. He has authored such books as Tuned to Baseball, 
Diamond Gems and The Babe Signed My Shoe, and coauthored or contributed 
to several other books about the game of baseball. In addition to his 
literary works, Ernie has also had more than 50 of his songs 
professionally recorded.
  Considering that he has announced games over an unprecedented seven 
decades, Ernie will always be remembered best as a broadcaster; 
however, his personality and earnestness have endeared him to 
generations of listeners as a friend. To say that Ernie Harwell is 
beloved by the citizens of Michigan would be an understatement, which 
is why it comes with great regret that we are marking his retirement.
  Ernie Harwell once said that a successful play-by-play man ``should 
have the enthusiasm of a fan, the background knowledge of a writer, the 
reflexes of a ballplayer, and the impartiality of an umpire.'' I think 
he has exemplified these qualities, and he brought so much more to the 
game. Ernie Harwell is a Detroit hero and a baseball legend. While some 
of the Tigers' recent years have been forgettable, Ernie Harwell will 
never be.
  As much as we will miss Ernie, we wish him well as he begins his life 
away from the microphone. I join the citizens of Michigan in thanking 
Ernie Harwell for his decades of outstanding service to the Detroit 
Tigers and the broadcasting community. I know my colleagues in the 
Senate will join me in supporting this resolution in his honor.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise to submit a resolution, along 
with Senator Levin, to honor Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Detroit 
Tigers. As Tiger fans across the country know, Ernie Harwell is 
retiring this year after broadcasting major league baseball for 55 
years, the last 42 of which were in Detroit.
  Ernie Harwell has broadcast some of the great moments in baseball, 
including the debut of Willie Mays, Bobby Thompson's ``shot heard round 
the world'' and Hoyt Wilhelm's famous no hitter against the Yankees in 
  In addition, he also called the Tigers' last two World Series 
victories in 1968 and 1984. He also brought to life the performances of 
some of baseball's greats, like Sparky Anderson, Kirk Gibson, Al 
Kaline, Denny McLain, Alan Trammel and many others.
  Tigers fans have such fond memories of Ernie Harwell, it is hard to 
believe that he will not be in the broadcast booth next year. Since 
Sunday, September 15 is Ernie Harwell Day at Comerica Park in Detroit, 
Senator Levin and I wanted to take up and pass this resolution 
congratulating Ernie on his great career and wishing him the best of 
luck in retirement.
  I hope my colleagues will support this resolution.
  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution 
and the preamble be agreed to en bloc, that the motion to reconsider be 
laid upon the table, and that any statements relating thereto be 
printed in the Record.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The resolution (S. Res. 327) was agreed to.
  The preamble was agreed to.
  The resolution, with its preamble, reads as follows:

                              S. Res. 327

       Whereas Ernie Harwell worked as a Major League Baseball 
     broadcaster for 55 years and as the signature voice of the 
     Detroit Tigers for 42 of those years;
       Whereas Ernie Harwell's voice brought the game of baseball 
     to life for Tiger fans, and he was voted Michigan 
     Sportscaster of the year 17 times;
       Whereas Ernie Harwell had such a love of baseball that, 
     upon meeting Babe Ruth as a child, he had ``The Babe'' 
     autograph his shoe because he did not have paper;
       Whereas Ernie Harwell called the 1968 and 1984 World Series 
     that crowned the Tigers world champions;
       Whereas in 1948, Ernie Harwell became the only broadcaster 
     to be traded for a player when Branch Rickey, general manager 
     of the Brooklyn Dodgers, traded Cliff Dapper to the Atlanta 
     Crackers for Harwell;
       Whereas Ernie Harwell's memorable moments include 
     broadcasting the debut of Willie Mays in 1951, Bobby 
     Thomson's ``shot heard 'round the world'' that same year, and 
     Hoyt Wilhelm's no-hitter against the New York Yankees in 
       Whereas on August 2, 1981, Ernie Harwell became the fifth 
     broadcaster to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame;
       Whereas Ernie Harwell brought to life, through the medium 
     of radio, the performances of some of baseball's greats, such 
     as Sparky Anderson, Kirk Gibson, Al Kaline, Denny McLain, 
     Alan Trammell, and many others;
       Whereas the Cleveland Indians renamed the visiting radio 
     booth in the Jacobs Field press box the ``Ernie Harwell 
     Visiting Radio Booth'' in commemoration of his career;
       Whereas Sunday, September 15, 2002, is ``Ernie Harwell 
     Day'' at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan; and
       Whereas Detroit Tiger fans all over the country have fond 
     memories of Ernie Harwell, summer, and Tiger victories: Now, 
     therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) honors and celebrates the achievements of Ernie 
       (2) wishes Ernie Harwell good health and happiness in his 
     retirement; and
       (3) directs the Secretary of the Senate to transmit a copy 
     of this resolution to Ernie Harwell.