Thursday, May 6, 2010

Detroit Sports

Tonight the Red Wings beat the San Jose Sharks.  Not just beat them but whipped 'em good.  The final score was 7-1.  Nevermind that the Wings are down 3-1 in the series.  It's not looking good for them but at least tonight they played their hearts out.

I've always been a big sports fan, a trait I attribute to my Dad.  Whatever the season, sports were always on in our house.  If it was Summer, then the Tigers were on the radio.  I listened to so many games, with Ernie Harwell calling the game.  He always made me feel like I was at the game.  Even when the Tigers weren't playing well, and there were plenty of seasons like that, he had something good to say about the players.  I was amazed by the way he would call games -- when a player hit a foul ball he somehow 'knew' that the fan in the stands who caught the ball was from Jackson, or Walla Walla, or some other town.  How in the world did he know, I would ask myself.

Ernie died Tuesday at the age of 92.  He lived an exemplary life.  Married for 68 years to his sweetheart LuLu, he was the consummate Christian and when he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer last year, spoke so eloquently about his pending death.  He was honored at a ball game last summer but could only speak about how warmly he had been treated by the fans and how much his career as a broadcaster had meant to him.  He was the only broadcaster ever to be traded for a ball player!  Check out Wikipedia for more on his amazing life.

Ernie called his last ball game in 2002 -- at the age of 84 -- can you believe it!  But he wasn't done working -- he was the spokesman for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, signing a 10 year contract in 2003.  Reminds me a lot of George Burns.

Thousands of people lined up today to pay their respects with Ernie lying in repose beside his bronze statue at Comerica Park.  Like so many others I'm saddened by his passing -- such great childhood memories flow back.  I remember listening to close games, begging God to let the Tigers win in exchange for my promise to be nice to my little sister.  Sometimes they won and sometimes they didn't.  Either way, Ernie always made the games interesting.  He will be missed.

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