Steve McCatty remembers Ernie Harwell
Baseball tonight lost legendary Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, by all accounts one of the finest gentleman and ambassadors the sport had to offer. No one on the Nationals knew him better or felt his impact more than Steve McCatty, a Troy, Mich. native who worked for the Tigers after his playing career ended. Here, simply, are some of McCatty's unfiltered thoughts on the voice he learned baseball from:
"He was such a big part of my life. It's like a part of your family dies, for everybody. We all knew it was going to happen. I'm sure there's a lot of sad people there.
"You grow up, you go to the ballpark as a kid, you think of Tiger Stadium, the first thing you thought was this green grass when you walked up from underneath. And then you just think of Ernie Harwell's voice. It was everything to us.
"Everybody talks about Vin Scully. He's great at what he does. Ernie would say Vinny was the best. But for us in Detroit, nobody was better than Ernie. It's just kind of strange a part of baseball history is gone now. He was just a wonderful man. Great storyteller. Never heard him cuss in all the years I've know him. In baseball, that's saying something. I think he's the only person that never called me Cat. He always called me Mr. McCatty or Steverino. That's the only guy I let get away with that. He was just a fun guy to be around. He knew so much about the game. It's a big loss for baseball.
"Growing up in Michigan as a kid, what do you hear first? It was just Ernie. Ernie was a summer night in July, sitting next door in the breezeway with my friends, or being out under the tree with my dad. He was so good.
"It's like I would stand around the cage - I wasn't supposed to stand around the cage when we were taking BP. He came up and introduced himself as Ernie Harwell. It was always a joy to see Ernie. I was just thankful for the memories he gave me as a kid."
While McCatty spoke in the clubhouse, a clip of Harwell played on a television screen. McCatty excused himself so he could watch. He gathered himself, shook his head, smiled and started to speak. "Great man," McCatty said.
May 4, 2010; 11:55 PM ET
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