Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ernie Harwell...and Walla Walla?!

One of the elements of the game of baseball that I missed, and that drew me back in, was the relationships that exist among "baseball" people. Whether it is running into a long-time mentor at a convention after years of not seeing that person (see below), or watching a player that you saw "before" he made it get a big hit or win, it is first and foremost a relationship-driven game.

That is what made what happened tonight so cool. I received a phone call from a gentleman who introduced himself as the producer of an audio book about the great Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell (Detroit Tigers). Harwell, who spent 55 years as a broadcaster (and 42 of those years with the Tigers), was known for some remarkable calls and for being among the most gracious men in the game. One of his famous "calls" was on foul balls, where he would identify someone from the outlying areas of Detroit (or another city the Tigers were playing in) as having caught the ball (Saginaw, Grosse Pointe, and Lansing were among the locales). One time, at a Mariners game in Seattle, Mr. Harwell made a call of "the man from Walla Walla will take that (ball) home". For a brief moment in baseball history, Ernie Harwell and Walla Walla were connected.

Now back to the phone call - it was placed by a Mr. Gordon Miller (the owner of Audio Book Publishing), who had noticed our press release a few days back announcing our agreement with Capps Broadcast Group to be the radio home of the Walla Walla Sweets broadcasts. In the press release, we made reference to the greats - Ernie, Vin Scully, and Dave Niehaus (among others). Well, Mr. Miller saw the release, called me, and let me know of the following call (click on "signature calls" and listen to about 2/3 of the way into the clip).

Mr. Miller graciously offered us use of the clip during the season - in-stadium, on broadcasts, etc. Its a small, and seemingly insignificant, gesture, but it was a kind and thoughtful offer, something that brings notice to what is great about the game of baseball: the relationships that draw communities as far apart as Detroit and Walla Walla together. Thank you, Gordon, for the call, and I encourage people who are fans of the greats to purchase the audio book and find out why Mr. Harwell was one of the best in the game.

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