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Real Answers™
Copyright: ©2010 Kendall Wingrove
710 words


By: Kendall Wingrove

Every year, countless baseball fans would gather around their radios and wait to hear the familiar verse from the Song of Solomon: 


"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."  


Quoting Scripture wasn’t merely an annual ritual for legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell.  Faith was the hallmark of Harwell’s personal and professional life.  When the beloved announcer died recently, thousands of people shared memories about a remarkable gentleman who didn’t just talk the talk, but truly walked the walk.  


A pivotal moment in that walk came in early 1961 when Harwell went to Lakeland, Florida with the Detroit Tigers during spring training.


 “God was speaking to me, a small voice I guess you could say, telling me I should go over (to where) Billy Graham was having an Easter service," Harwell recalled.  "When he gave the invitation to surrender your life to Christ, I went down and did that.  That was the watermark of my life.  It made my outlook completely different.  Now…I have a relationship with Jesus and He is the dominant factor in my life.” 


That faith was evident to all, and Harwell’s consistent kindness spoke volumes about its authenticity.  Far away from microphone and cameras, Harwell reached out to famous figures and common folks with equal generosity. He would drive hours to visit a disabled child, accept invitations to pancake breakfasts and senior citizen centers, and even quietly encourage Major League ballplayers and managers coping with pressures in the limelight.


Many listened to Harwell at Baseball Chapel.  Harwell’s message was concise: “No. 1, first things first.  Seek first the kingdom of God.  Second, I have problems but He’s here to help me.  No. 3, when God is by your side, nobody can do anything to you.  We know what the final score is. We’re just playing out the game.” 


Harwell considered it an honor to be a part of America's national pastime.  At his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, he said: "Baseball is a tongue-tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown."


Ernie also thought it was a privilege to have his voice broadcast into people's homes. 


 “Thank you for letting me be part of your family," he said.  "Thank you for taking me with you to that cottage up north, to the beach, the picnic, your work place and your backyard.  Thank you for sneaking your transistor under the pillow as you grew up loving the Tigers.”


Generations of those fans were devastated by Harwell’s 2009 announcement that he was suffering from inoperable cancer.  Despite the grim prognosis, Harwell’s faith remained strong.


“I'm ready to face what comes," Harwell told reporters. "Whether it's a long time or a short time is all right with me because it's up to my Lord and savior. I know there's going to be hardship and pain. But I also know that He's with me always. I know into whose arms I'm gonna fall.” 


Although he felt quite ill, Harwell summoned his remaining strength and shared some powerful and prophetic words during an emotional farewell at Detroit’s Comerica Park.


“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 it’s going to end here in the great state of Michigan,” he told the crowd. 


The end came on May 4, 2010.  When he stepped away from the broadcast booth eight years earlier Harwell said, “Now God has a new adventure for me. And I'm ready to move on.  So I leave you with a deep sense of appreciation for your longtime loyalty and support.” 


Ernie Harwell has now embarked on that new adventure after a life of faithful preparation. And while his voice will no longer be heard in our land, Harwell left us with a deep sense of appreciation. Even after he is long gone, we will never forget this genuine soul. Ernie’s loyalty and incredible support are a testament to the loving creator who kept waving him toward home. 

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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