OAKLAND, Calif. -- Legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell died today at age 92 after a bout with cancer, news that has those in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum that knew him telling all kinds of stories.
Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel is one of those who spent plenty of time with Harwell and had the utmost respect for him. Nadel reflected on what Harwell meant to him.
"When I started my professional career I was doing hockey in Muskegon, Michigan, and Ernie was the voice of the Tigers and it was the first time I got a chance to hear him," Nadel said. "I had heard the name and knew how beloved he was, but as soon as I moved out to Michigan in July of 1972, I started listening to Ernie and realized what a special announcer he was, how unique he was, how the warmth of his personality came through over the air, how vivid his descriptions were, how colorful he was in a homespun way without being corny."
Nadel remembers the first time he met Harwell, when Nadel was with the Rangers and the two teams played.
"He was incredibly gracious to me and always was," Nadel said. "I got to know him pretty well and there weren't and aren't very many like him. He was humble to a fault, extremely giving. I don't think there's any announcer that has ever reached out as much as he did to young announcers, whether they be in the major leagues or the minor leagues. He was always available for help and advice."
Nadel said he never missed a chance to talk to Harwell when the Rangers played the Tigers. He also introduced Harwell as a guest speaker at one of the Rangers' luncheons a few years ago.
"He thanked me as if I was an equal of his, which to me was totally ludicrous, but that's the way he treated people," Nadel said. "He thought everybody was his equal even though he was this giant in the field of broacasting, that didn't make him better than anyone else in his own mind."