I’ll admit it. I’m a fool for baseball. And one of the greatest reasons I love the game so much walked out onto the field at Comerica Park this evening — Ernie Harwell, 91 years young, diagnosed with terminal cancer, but as optimistic and gracious and gentlemanly as ever — to say thank you:
“It’s a wonderful night for me,” Harwell said. “I really feel lucky to be here, and I want to thank you for that warm welcome. I want to express my deep appreciation to Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers for that video salute and also for the many great things they’ve done for me and my family throughout my career here with the Tigers.
“In my almost 92 years on this Earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey, and the blessed part of that journey is that it’s going to end here in the great state of Michigan. I deeply appreciate the people of Michigan. I love their grit. I love the way they face life. I love the family values they have. And you Tiger fans are the greatest fans of all, no question about that.
“And I certainly want to thank you from the depth of my heart for your devotion, your support, your loyalty and your love. Thank you very much, and God bless you.”
It’s just like Ernie Harwell to say thank you to all of us, when all of us should be saying thank you to Ernie Harwell. As Ernie’s last season as the voice of the Detroit Tigers began in April 2002, I penned a column as Hillsdale Daily News sports editor — a column titled “Ernie Harwell reminds us what baseball is about”.
Simply one of the best, and a personal hero of mine. All the best to Ernie Harwell, his wife Lulu, and their family.