I've been spoiled by having 150 or so Tiger games televised by Fox Sports Detroit. The games are on so often that I rarely hear a radio game any more. Never an entire game. Sunday was different.
One of the reason I loved Ernie Harwell so much was that back in the day there were so few games on television. Maybe 40 or 50 per year. If I wanted to experience the game the radio was the only method.
Listening on the radio is such a different experience than watching on tv or even being at the game. Radio games require you to use your imagination as the announcer weaves the narrative. No announcing team was better than Ernie and Paul, at painting the picture so the listener knew exactly what was happening.
Ernie and Ray Lane were also very, very good. I'll never forget being huddled around the radio, with my Dad and my brothers, when Don Wert hit the single to drive in Al Kaline, that was the game winning hit that clinched the 1968 American League pennant. We have all heard the replay of Ernie's description about the team mobbing Kaline at home plate, as the Tigers celebrated their American League championship for the first time in 23 years. I'm sure it would have been terrific to see it on television, but there was just something special about that shared experience of a radio game that was the pennant clincher. And hearing Ernie describe it was the one of the memorable moments of my years as a Tiger fan. I wasn't at the game, but Ernie made me feel like I was.
Dan Dickerson is becoming "Ernieesque" as the play by play guy on the Tigers radio network.
Yesterday I had a ton of outside work to do and rather than watch the game on tv I took the radio outside and kept moving it to different parts of the yard as I worked. Dickerson was brilliant as he described Max Scherzer's performance. He highlighted that the strikeouts were all swinging and described how Max was changing speeds and painting corners. I finished my outside work long about the 7th inning but decided to sit out in the sun and listen to the finish on the radio. It was just like I was a kid again. A great game experience that reminded me of the days when I helped my old man in his garden as the Tigers battled one team or another and Ernie made us feel like we were there.
Jim Price will never be my favorite analyst but even he was on his game Sunday and did a fair job of assisting Dan with the call of the game.
I am glad I get to watch 150 games a year, but for this one day, a radio game with Dan and Jim was a great way to make the mulching, weeding and planting feel a little less like work.