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Daily Goodbye

To Detroit Tigers fans, Ernie Harwell was the soul of the team. As a longtime baseball broadcaster, Mr. Harwell's "rich voice, Southern cadence and quirky phrases on the radio" made him revered by generations of Detroit denizens.

He died yesterday at 92.

The Hall of Fame announcer spent more than 40 years on the air in Detroit, and will lie in repose at Comerica Park tomorrow.

Here's legendary announcer Vin Scully's history on how Mr. Harwell became a major league announcer in Brooklyn: "In 1948, the Brooklyn Dodgers were in Pittsburgh. It was an off-day, and Red Barber was playing golf at the Pittsburgh Field Club. He was at a place on the golf course that was close to the clubhouse, and he felt very nauseous...He had a bleeding ulcer, so they flew him to New York immediately. Branch Rickey was running the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time. Arthur Mann was running the Atlanta Crackers. Branch called Arthur, because they knew each other very well, and he said, 'I need your announcer.' And Arthur said, 'Well, I need a catcher.' So Clint Dapper was sent to Atlanta, and Ernie Harwell came to Brooklyn. It was the only trade that ever involved an announcer."

Henry Sternweiler was a German immigrant who was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II where he landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day plus one and served as an intelligence officer.

After the war, then Lt. Sternweiler was sent to Paris where he took charge of a group that was responsible for processing 18 million German military records. After a few weeks on the job, one of Lt. Sternweiler's superiors handed down some orders: destroy all the records. Reason? So that the Germans could not re-organize themselves into an armed force again.

The young fellow from Cincinnati refused, and in doing so, helped save millions of the remaining records.

In the decades after the war, Mr. Sternweiler--who died April 27 at age 91--was twice honored by the German government for his work preserving the priceless archive.

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By T. Rees Shapiro  |  May 5, 2010; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Goodbye  | Tags: Atlanta Crackers, Branch Rickey, Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell, Red Barber, Vin Scully, World War II  
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