RUSH: I do want to congratulate the Detroit Tigers. They finished the season in woeful shape and came back and took three in a row from the New York Yankees. But the thing I wanted to say about this is I was watching some of the game at some point (I forget when. These past days run together.) and there was Ernie Harwell, the former Tiger play-by-play man, one of the best who have ever worked in radio, at anything, and it took me back to the mid-seventies when I was working in radio in Kansas City at a disco station called KUDL.
At any rate, I had a friend at the Kansas City Royals, and the Royals were making the playoffs all those years, ’76, ’77, ’78, and they always have, in the playoffs, a media crunch and they’ve got a lot more radio and TV play-by-play coming in and the friend said, “Would you come out and work in the booth with Ernie Harwell who’s going to do the radio for the American League Championship Series?”
I said, “Whoa, of course!”
So I met with Ernie Harwell, and it was just a treat, and I asked him what he needed — and I knew he needed nothing from me! (Laughing) This is Ernie Harwell, and he was one of the most accomplished play-by-play baseball radio pioneers ever, and I just was reminded of this when I saw him the other night.
He said you know, “I could use some things,” and he told me some things he would like. “Do you know some players for the Royals?”
I said, “Yeah.”
“Well if you could, before the game run down and get me some vignettes and some stories.”
So I went down there to the field and batting practice and I picked up some of these things, little notes and vignettes, and I brought them back up and I gave them to Harwell, and he used a couple of them. I had no business being in that booth with Ernie Harwell. It was a big thrill for me but I had no business being there, and he was the nicest, the most gracious man I think I’ve ever met — at his stature and his level of things, and I was in that booth for whatever the total number of games were in that series. It was the Royals and the Yankees, but it was just a memorable experience for me. But I’ll never forget how here he is, there to do a very important job, and he’s going out of his way to make sure I’m comfortable in the booth and making sure that I’m having a good time up there, and it was totally unnecessary.
You know, my dad always said — and I’ve mentioned this to you before, but it’s something that is true. ‘You can always take the measure of someone by watching how they treat people who can’t do anything for them, and if they treat people who can’t do anything for them with the same amount of respect as they do people who can or people that work for them, then you got a pretty good idea about their character,’ and from my experience with Ernie Harwell, there was no finer man or character that I had the chance to work with in such circumstances. Just getting this call from Laguna Beach that said Detroit up there (how that happened is beyond me, but nevertheless) it reminded me of the story, and of course that leads to another thing.
Now, New York hates Joe Torre. Well, they don’t hate Joe Torre, the media hates Joe Torre. Joe Torre’s gotta go because the Yankees have lost — and that’s another thing. What is it the expectation that the baseball season is worthless with the New York Yankees don’t win the World Series? Where did that get written? What’s wrong if the Detroit Tigers win? Where is it written if the Yankees lose that, there’s something institutionally wrong with baseball? There’s nothing institutionally wrong with baseball just because the Yankees don’t win. There are maybe other institutional problems with baseball, but not just because the Yankees don’t win.
(interruption) The Detroit people ‘want to watch a World Series with Detroit.’ It’s good to have different teams in there every year. (interruption) Not in the World Series! They’re both in the American League Snerdley, you idiot. They can’t meet each other in the World Series. Now, next thing you’re going to tell me, ‘Who cares about the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers and the American League Championship Series?’ You’re going to tell me nobody cares about that. You may as well be a Northeastern elitist if that’s your attitude about it. The baseball fans of this country will watch it.
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