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Tigers hold tribute to their legendary voice

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 16, 2002

DETROIT -- When the subject was Ernie Harwell, Tigers outfielder Robert Fick was like any fan Sunday.

"What he's done for this organization is priceless," said Fick, who represented the Tigers during Ernie Harwell Day ceremonies before the game against Kansas City at Comerica Park.

"He's such a nice guy. Such a gentleman. No matter who you are, even if you're in your first day as a big leaguer, he treats everyone with respect."

Harwell, who been a major-league broadcaster for 55 years, 42 with the Tigers, is retiring at the end of the season.

For many Michiganians, he is as much a part of the state as the Great Lakes.

"He is baseball in Detroit," Bill Lega of Livonia said. "When you think of the Detroit Tigers, you think of Ernie Harwell. He's like Al Kaline, always with the team. The rest come and go."

Harwell left the game early after his wife of 61 years, Lulu, was taken to Henry Ford Hospital. The hospital wasn't releasing information about her condition, although a Tigers spokesman said she was taken there as a precaution.

Harwell began his career with the Tigers in 1960, and a generation of fans grew up listening to him call games, sometimes well past their bedtimes.

"I first heard his voice at the age of 5," Dale Petroskey, a Michigan native who is president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, said during the ceremonies. "My brothers and I would sneak transistor radios into our rooms and put them under our pillows so our mom and dad couldn't see them. We would listen to Ernie Harwell's voice, and that lullaby would put us to sleep."

Meanwhile, Tigers manager Luis Pujols said infielder Dmitri Young (hernia) and left-hander Mark Redman (dead arm) won't play again this season.

EXPOS: Former players Tim Wallach, Charlie Lea and Dennis Martinez signed autographs before the game during a "Turn Back the Clock" promotion. The trio threw baseballs into the crowd as they were driven around the field before making ceremonial first pitches.

INDIANS: First baseman Jim Thome has reached base in 44 straight games, the AL's longest streak this season and longest currently in the majors.

MARINERS: Utilityman Mark McLemore likely is out for the season with a pulled right groin. The 37-year-old McLemore hurt himself Saturday in his first game back after elbow surgery Sept. 5.

RED SOX: Right-hander Derek Lowe began serving his five-game suspension and second baseman Rey Sanchez his two-gamer stemming from a brawl with the Orioles on July 28.

ROCKIES: Denny Neagle left in the third with tightness in his left (pitching) forearm.

YANKEES: All was calm in the clubhouse a day after right-hander Orlando Hernandez threw a punch at catcher Jorge Posada. Manager Joe Torre said it was the first time he could recall a scuffle in his locker room since taking over the team in 1996. It was unclear what triggered the argument.

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