Friday, May 7, 2010

Baseball icon sews American cultural fabric

It was only a short wait, maybe 20 minutes or so.

People of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds patiently sauntered on the sun-kissed sidewalk. They chatted lovingly about a man who defined the fabric of baseball in American culture affected their lives, families and interests.

We were all there to pay respects to Ernie Harwell, a gentleman who described the nuances, skills and emotion of a wonderful game on radio for at least three generations of Michiganders, who died this week at age 92.

The sight of a great man in a wooden casket underneath a statue of himself inside a major-league baseball stadium was quite unusual and incongruous. But, in a wonderful way, it was as normal as grilled red hots, fragrant popcorn and crushed peanut shells on a lazy July afternoon.

We live our lives in the context of our interests and passions. Ernie lived his life in two stadiums during his career in Michigan to relay excitement, details and information to an audience he didn't see.

Yesterday his fans, friends and colleagues returned the favor.