One of baseball's legends passed away yesterday. Ernie Harwell, the longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers, died after losing a battle against cancer.
More so than any other sport, baseball and radio were made for each other. Whether you're listening while driving around town or working in the backyard, the pace of the game lends itself to colorful stories and anecdotes. The masters of the craft weave those threads in and out during the course of a game.
One of my fondest memories growing up was the one-game playoff between the Houston Astros and the hated Los Angeles Dodgers back in 1980. The 'stros had a three game lead going into the final weekend of the season and managed to lose all three games, leaving them and the Dodgers tied for first place in the N.L. West after 162 games. The whole season would come down to a winner-take-all affair and the winner would take on Philadelphia for the pennant.
I was in school at the time and when the game began the principal turned on the intercom system and we all sat in our classes and listened to the legendary Gene Elston call the game. The details of that game are long forgotten but the memories of being mesmerized by a man calling a baseball game will never fade. For you see, the impact of a good story is not in the details, but in the mood that is created.