Sometimes, a person or a voice gets so intrinsically combined with another thing that the person becomes an institution. One of those institutions was stilled this week, but if you close you eyes and listen, you can still hear his voice echoing without fading not just from Comerica Park, but from the corner of Michigan and Trumbull as well.
Ernie Harwell wasn’t just the Voice of the Tigers. He was the Voice of Michigan. A Michigan Icon as ubiquitous as Faygo Redpop, Koegel’s Viennas, Stroh’s Beer, and Mooney’s Ice Cream. It may have sounded corny when he mentioned being invited in to our cabins up north, our back yards, or in the transistors hidden under our pillows, but he was there. He was the sound of campouts next to Lake Huron. He was the sound of summer at my grandparents’ home in Waterford, his voice ringing with clarity from the table radio in the kitchen into the living room, and upstairs on a hot but fragrant summer night.
I would be hard-pressed to say why I feel the need to write about it here, but I went to youtube, and I listened. And remembered. I remembered not just a simpler time, but a time of innocence. I remembered those things that meant “Michigan” to me, and I reflected on those things that no longer exist. And sometimes, I think what it would mean to be six again, having a hamburger and some of Grandma’s potato salad and a slice of her strawberry rubarb pie for desert, and sitting next to my Grandpa as I eat it, sitting on the back deck at their house as the sun sinks lower in the trees and lights up the canal, shimmering until sinks low enough on the horizon that the stars become visible in the eastern skies.
If you will excuse me, I’m going to listen to a little bit more now, and when I’m done, I’ll try to figure out where all this dust in my eyes is coming from.