Detroit Tigers radio voice Ernie Harwell, 84, announced last month that this will be his final season broadcasting major league games after 55 years, 42 of them with the Tigers.
?He battled a speech impediment as a child in Atlanta, unable to properly form s or ch sounds.
?At 16 he sent samples of his writing to The Sporting News, using the name W. Earnest Harwell (he thought that made him sound older) and was hired as a correspondent.
?He was the paperboy for Margaret Mitchell. In 1939 he covered the premiere of Gone With the Wind as a writer for LIFE.
?After graduating from Emory University and spending four years in the Marine Corps during World War II, Harwell began broadcasting games for the Southern Association's Atlanta Crackers.
? When Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber was hospitalized during the 1948 season, Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey needed a quick replacement. Crackers owner Earl Mann needed a catcher. Mann traded Harwell for minor league backstop Cliff Dapper, the only known deal involving a broadcaster.
?He worked the three-game 1951 National League playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers, which concluded with Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard Round the World, for NBC. It was the first sports event televised live coast to coast.
?He has missed only two games in his career: in 1968 to attend his brother Davis's funeral and in '89 when he was inducted into the National Sportscasters' Hall of Fame (one of nine Halls of Fame of which he's a member, including the one in Cooperstown).
?He has two consecutive-game streaks longer than Cal Ripken's 2,632.
?An accomplished songwriter, he has had more than 50 pieces recorded by artists such as B.J. Thomas and Mitch Ryder.