Happy Birthday Ernie Harwell: “The stage I’m in, who needs a rsum?”

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Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press

In a column for Sunday’s Detroit Free Press, Hall of Fame Detroit Tigers play-by-play man Ernie Harwell wrote on the day before his 92nd birthday that he remembers the day he began a journalism career.

“In 1936, my senior year, I decided to write for the Atlanta Boys High Tatler,” Harwell wrote (linked here). “For no reason at all, the editor assigned the newcomer to write a column, ‘Turning on the Heat.’

“In the upset of the year, that first column won me a Royal typewriter in the annual Quill and Scroll competition among 3,000 entries from all over the U.S. It was the first time any contestant from the South had won the literary award.

“For me, it has been downhill ever since.”


Harwell says he’s been doing a column for the Free Press the last 20 years, and writing for a major publication since 1934.

Harwell, who revealed last summer he had terminal cancer, was born in Washington, Ga., on Jan. 25, 1918.

He wrote a Christmas Day column for the Free Press’ A1 page (linked here) explaining: “This year, I’m not sending cards. Last July, doctors gave me only six months (more or less) to live. That was five months ago. I am still hanging around. But, while getting ready for my new adventure, I’m not dying to send out cards.”

== A story I did on Harwell 10 years ago — did you know he could have stayed as the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcaster and moved with the team to L.A. but instead, in 1949, took a job with the New York Giants, which opened the door for the hiring of Scully? (linked here). The Dodgers found Harwell working for the Atlanta Crackers in the middle of the ’48 season because Red Barber had a bleeding ulcer and had to be hospitalized. Harwell, by the way, came to the Dodgers in a trade – the Crackers wanted backup catcher Cliff Dapper, who could succeed Kiki Cuyler as their manager. The Dodgers, who had Roy Campanella, agreed.

== A story I did on Harwell in 2002 after he’d been fired by new Tigers team president Bo Schembechler (linked here)

== His Wikipedia bio (linked here)

== His Radio Hall of Fame bio (linked here)

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  • Greg Mahoney

    Hey Tom,
    Here is a story you can really sink your teeth into. A birthday party where all you have to do is print quotes from the birthday boy. I know it gets dicey for you when you have to try and write a thoughtful piece.
    Evidenced by your “Not backpedaling” follow-up story to your poorly researched and insulting supercross story.
    Probably best for you to stick with fluff pieces like that so you stay out of trouble.